Scientists told about cases when the coronavirus hit the placenta and led to stillbirth

(ORDO NEWS) — The research team analyzed 64 stillbirths and four newborn deaths in 12 countries, all of which had SARS-CoV-2 infected placentas.

A team of scientists from the Fernandez Figueira Institute in Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), the Comenius University in Bratislava (Slovakia), the University Hospital of Leuven (Belgium), the Linköping University (Sweden) and universities in some other countries described cases when the coronavirus SARS-CoV- 2 destroyed the placenta and led to stillbirth in pregnant women with Covid-19.

This is not the first study that has examined the impact of coronavirus infection on expectant mothers and their fetuses. So, the work of American scientists has previously shown that Covid-19 is able to change the immune system – both pregnant and newborn.

And according to a recent nationwide Scottish study , the rate of perinatal mortality (fetal or infant death) for infected women was 22.6 per 1,000 births – compared to 5.6 per 1,000 births among those who did not have Covid-19.

Although it has been proven that SARS-CoV-2 can cause fetal death, the mechanism behind this remains largely unknown.

Now scientists from 12 countries have analyzed the placental tissue – the embryonic organ that forms in the uterine cavity during pregnancy and communicates between the mother’s body and the unborn child through the umbilical cord – 64 stillborn children and four babies who were born but soon died. In all cases, mothers (ages 24 to 40) were not vaccinated and contracted Covid-19 while pregnant.

The placentas were submitted for post-mortem examination, they were weighed, carefully examined, and several representative sections of the placental parenchyma were taken on the spot. Coronavirus infection was diagnosed using tissue PCR, immunohistochemistry of SARS-CoV-2 antigens, and other methods in tissues.

The normal placenta has a healthy reddish hue and spongy texture, while the samples studied by the authors were hard and with dark spots of dead tissue.

According to scientists, they have not yet seen such extensive destruction of this organ in their practice. The placenta revealed chronic histiocytic intervillositis, increased perivillous fibrin deposition, and necrosis of the villous trophoblast.

Scientists told about cases when the coronavirus hit the placenta and led to stillbirth 2

It is by these three signs that placentitis is usually determined – inflammation of the placenta, which has developed due to non-infectious and infectious factors. It was diagnosed in 65 of 68 (97%) specimens, with an average of 77.7% tissue involvement.

In another two cases associated with preterm birth, there was no chronic histiocytic intervillositis, and in the third case, scientists did not observe massive perivillous fibrin deposition. Increased fibrin deposition and villous trophoblast necrosis were present in all 68 samples.

Scientists told about cases when the coronavirus hit the placenta and led to stillbirth 1

“Increased perivillous fibrin deposition is an unusual anomaly. Fibrin/fibrinoid interferes with normal perfusion and gas/nutrient exchange, traps the chorionic villi (part of the developing placenta. – Ed.) , leads to ischemia and necrosis of the villi, causing placental insufficiency.

Long before the Covid-19 pandemic, massive perivillous fibrin deposition was recognized as a cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality due to hypoxic fetal injury, which included spontaneous abortion, intrauterine growth retardation, preterm birth, stillbirth, neonatal mortality, neurological disease in surviving infants, and a significant risk of recurrence.” , the scientists write.

Scientists told about cases when the coronavirus hit the placenta and led to stillbirth 2

Some samples had multiple intervillous thrombi (in 25 of 68 cases) and chronic villitis, placental injury (22 of 68 samples). The researchers also performed autopsies on some stillborns and found no significant fetal anomalies in 63% of cases, with the exception of intrauterine hypoxia and asphyxia.

SARS-CoV-2 was directly present in nasopharyngeal swabs of 16 out of 28 embryos studied. In four stillborns subjected to the autopsy procedure, the virus was found in the internal organs.

The authors of the paper believe that SARS-CoV-2 reached the placenta through the bloodstream, attaching to susceptible cells and causing protein deposits and an unusual form of inflammation that blocked blood flow and oxygen supply. This led to the death of placental tissue and suffocation.

Most often, the embryo died at the 30th week of pregnancy. According to scientists, high blood pressure, certain chronic diseases and fetal abnormalities can increase the risk of stillbirth, including in women with Covid-19.


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