April 6, 2023

Two case studies of cross-placental COVID-19 transmission, causing brain injury

Editor's Note

Researchers at UHealth—the University of Miami Health System and the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine—show that, in two cases, COVID-19 breached the placenta and caused brain injury in the newborn.

Both infants tested negative for the virus at birth, but had significantly elevated COVID-19 antibodies in their blood, indicating that either antibodies crossed the placenta or transmission of the virus occurred.

Examination of both placentas showed pathological changes caused by COVID-19.

Both infants experienced seizures, small head size, and developmental delays. One infant died at 13 months of age.

In both cases, the mothers contracted COVID-19 in their second trimesters. One mother had a repeat infection in the third trimester.

To their knowledge, these are the first cases confirming cross-placental COVID-19 transmission leading to brain injury in the newborn, the researchers say.

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