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COVID-19, Pregnancy, and IUGR

Guest post by Bethany Lambson, RN

There are hardly any areas on planet Earth that the COVID-19 pandemic has not touched, and the tender intrauterine space is no exception. While there is a wide gap between what we know about COVID-19 in pregnancy and what is still to be discovered, emerging research suggests mothers who contract COVID-19 during pregnancy are more likely to have a baby with intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR).

So far, studies have shown a 2% increased occurrence of IUGR in babies born to mothers infected with the virus. A common theme with COVID-19 and pregnancy is “we don’t know why;” however it is highly likely that the link between growth restricted babies and infected mothers lies in the placenta. The SARS-CoV-2 virus may injure the placenta by causing calcium to deposit. These calcium deposits may prevent normal interactions between the placenta and fetus and may lead to placental insufficiency. Placental insufficiency is a common root cause of intrauterine growth restriction.

If you find yourself discouraged with one more thing to worry about during your pregnancy, take heart. While COVID-19 can cause injury to the placenta and lead to IUGR and other complications, it is not an absolute. Not every mother who tests positive for the virus will develop these complications. Furthermore, the use of blood thinning medication in mothers who have tested positive has been used as a protective and preventive therapy with great success.

If you contract COVID-19 while pregnant, your doctor can recommend the best therapies to safeguard your placenta and your baby. You may receive extra ultrasounds to monitor both. Speak with your doctor about the best ways to protect yourself against the virus during your pregnancy. Clinicians are learning more about COVID-19, pregnancy, and IUGR to better serve you and your baby.

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