Illustrative Keren Freeman/Flash 90

New Israeli research has uncovered one possible reason why intrauterine death is twice as common among COVID-19 patients than among the general population.

Research led by Professor Eran Barzilai of Assuta Hospital in Ashdod focused on women who had experienced the intrauterine death of their fetus shortly after contracting COVID-19. Researchers looked at the following parameters: pathological tests for the placenta; PCR test results for mother, baby, and placenta. They also compared groups of PCR-positive and PCR-negative mothers and babies at the time of birth.

A control group with no cases of intrauterine death also had no signs of COVID-19 infections in either placenta or fetus.

In some of the cases of stillbirth, there was a higher level of virus in the baby than in the mother, and in all cases of stillbirth, there had been significant damage to the placental tissue.

The researchers concluded that the reason for intrauterine death was damage caused by COVID-19 to the placenta, which impeded the transfer of oxygen and other vital matter to the fetus.

Commenting on the results, Prof. Barzilai said, “Research has already suggested that a woman who is sick with coronavirus is twice as likely to deliver a stillborn baby than a woman who is not sick with COVID. In our study, we attempted to find the reason for this phenomenon. What we discovered is that the coronavirus can infect the fetus and the placenta, causing substantial damage to the fabric of the placenta. It appears that this is the cause of the higher intrauterine mortality rate.”

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