Skip to content

A study conducted by Northwestern has found placental injuries in women who have tested positive for COVID-19. The placenta is the first organ to form when a woman is pregnant, and it is very important when it comes to the development of the fetus. The placenta helps give nutrients to the fetus and also removes waste.

Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, a senior author on the study conducted by Northwestern, said that people should be concerned but not fearful of their findings of placenta injuries. Dr. Goldstein is an assistant professor of pathology for the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

About the study

The study focused on 16 pregnant women who received a COVID-19 diagnosis during their pregnancy. Their placentas were analyzed to determine if there was any impact from the virus that has reached pandemic levels across the world.

Four of the women had tested positive weeks prior to delivering their babies, two women tested positive within one week of delivering their babies, and 10 women tested positive upon their arrival at the hospital to deliver their babies.

Northwestern has been testing every pregnant woman who visited the hospital for the virus since April. Dr. Goldstein did say that all of the 16 women have recovered from COVID-19.

The findings

The analysis of the placentas found blood clots and abnormal blood flow between the mothers and their fetuses. This is what’s known as maternal vascular malperfusion. This condition is typically seen in pregnant women who suffer from preeclampsia or hypertension.

“There’s an emerging consensus that problems with blood clotting and circulatory problems are a feature of the coronavirus,” said Dr. Goldstein. “And I think our work shows there might be something clot-forming about coronavirus, and it’s happening in the placenta.”

The health of the newborns

Dr. Goldstein noted that the majority of newborns related to the study were healthy when they were delivered. One of the babies was delivered at 34 weeks due to the mother’s COVID-19 symptoms worsening. One woman suffered a miscarriage in the second trimester and had been deemed asymptomatic. Dr. Goldstein does not know if COVID-19 played a role in the mother’s miscarriage.

“We need to follow up on these kids. There’s a tendency in pregnancy research to sunset when everyone goes home from the hospital, and that’s not good enough,” he said. Dr. Goldstein also noted that pregnant women need to be monitored more closely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The women who are pregnant now, the women who are delivering now didn’t know they’d be pregnant in the middle of a giant pandemic,” Goldstein said. “Pregnant women should avoid getting COVID-19 and should consider as the nation opens, as Chicago opens, whether to hang back a bit.”

Were you pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic in Arizona? You should consider speaking to a birth injury attorney from Plattner Verderame, PC about your situation. Call our office at 602-266-2002 or complete a contact form found online to schedule a consultation. We have offices in Tempe and Phoenix in order to better serve our clients.