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How Does COVID Affect Mother and Baby?

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How Does COVID Affect Mother and Baby?

Pregnant women fare worse than others, although the risks to the fetus are slight.


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COVID-19 presents serious risks to pregnant women, but rarely harms their unborn babies.

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Despite wide data gaps, research points to serious health risks for pregnant women infected with COVID-19, including premature delivery, hospitalization or death. Most physicians strongly recommend mRNA vaccines to pregnant patients, especially those with comorbidities. On the bright side, babies face low risk of infection and physical harm from their mother’s disease.


Obstetrician Yalda Afshar created a US registry to study the effects of SARS-CoV-2 on pregnant women.

About a dozen projects in the United States, and others worldwide, show that pregnant women infected with COVID-19 suffer higher hospitalization rates and severe disease risk than nonpregnant women in the same age group. Statistics from wider studies indicate a stronger tendency toward severe COVID illness and death among pregnant women in certain racial and ethnic groups.

The virus rarely crosses from mother to fetus, sparing most unborn children from COVID-19 effects. Some data indicate virus-caused placenta damage could injure a baby.

Researchers continue to study the incidence of COVID-19 in pregnant populations, and at what stages of pregnancy women experience the most vulnerability, including post-partum recovery periods.

Major vaccine manufacturers initially excluded pregnant women from trials, preventing sufficient safety data. As trials continue, new recommendations emerge. Because of the data gaps, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommended...

About the Author

Nidhi Subbaraman is a senior reporter for Nature based in Washington, DC.

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