A new study published in the JAMA Network Open suggests that babies born to women who contracted COVID-19 during their pregnancy have a higher risk of brain development disorders.
Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School studied over 7,700 infants delivered between March and September 2020 and tracked them during the first year of their life. During that time, 222 women tested positive for COVID during their pregnancy. The researchers found that 14.4% of the women who tested positive gave birth to babies who were diagnosed with developmental disorders such as autism and bipolar disorder.
In contrast, 8.7% of babies born to women who did not test positive for COVID were diagnosed with brain development disorders.
After adjusting the data to account for other risk factors, the researchers determined that contracting COVID during pregnancy resulted in a nearly two-fold increased risk of the child being diagnosed with developmental delays.
The researchers said they are unsure if the developmental delays are temporary and said more studies are needed to determine the long-term effects of infection.
“It will be really important to get larger cohorts and longer follow-up,” Roy Perlis at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston told New Scientist. “The goal of our study was to get a sense if there might be some risk.”