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COVID-19 May Be Damaging Placentas in Pregnant Mothers

Under normal circumstances, the last days of pregnancy are scary enough for many expectant mothers. They now have to contend with a contagious virus, known to cause damage to placentas as well as lungs and other internal organs. It’s an obvious concern for their own health and their newborns who could experience difficulties in the womb or during labor.

In May, a study from Northwestern was released, discussing findings that the placentas of 16 expectant mothers who tested positive for COVID-19 showed damage following childbirth. The concern focused on abnormal blood flow from the mothers to their babies in utero. This raises a new concern about making changes to protocols in the monitoring of pregnant women during the coronavirus pandemic.

While most of the babies were delivered without issue, COVID-19 only surfaced within the last four or five months. The patients were already in their second and third trimesters of their pregnancies. This means we don’t yet know how long term placental damage due to an undetected coronavirus infection early in a pregnancy could affect a newborn, or whether it could pose complications during childbirth.

What is the main function of a placenta?

The placenta has a very important job. It carries oxygen and nutrients to your baby in the womb, which is crucial to healthy development. It also removes waste from your baby’s blood. A damaged placenta may fail to properly perform the functions necessary for your child’s healthy development and if it’s not caught early enough, the potential exists that you and your child could face a lifetime of severe medical issues.

Primary placental concerns due to COVID-19

One abnormality discovered in the patients studied is maternal vascular malperfusion of the placenta. This condition—which refers to a placental injury caused by altered blood flow—results in lesions on the placenta that can be responsible for:

  • Low birth weight
  • Increased delivery risks for low weight infants
  • Preterm births

Another complication is intervillous thrombi or blood clots in the placenta. In essence, blood clots block the flow of oxygen and nutrients to your baby. They can also cause a condition known as placental abruption, which means your placenta has partially or completely detached from your uterus. Even if the clot didn’t fully block the blood flow to your baby, a placental abruption can, which may result in a loss of your baby.

Other effects of placental abruption include:

  • Restricted growth in the womb that can end in stillbirth or avoidable medical complications
  • Lack of oxygen, which can lead to birth defects such as cerebral palsy
  • Premature birth

Early detection of COVID-19 in pregnant patients and frequent monitoring could be the key to staving off birth injuries that can turn into serious lifetime health conditions.

If your newborn has suffered an injury related to negligence during childbirth, you need a strong, aggressive personal injury lawyer with the resources and knowledge needed to hold the hospital and physician liable.

If the Georgia birth injury lawyers at Harris Lowry Manton LLP reveal through investigation that your newborn’s injury or illness could have been prevented, you may be entitled to recover damages. To receive a free case evaluation, call our Savannah office at 912-417-3774, our Atlanta office at 404-998-8847, or reach out to us through our contact page to tell us your story.



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