The findings, published in the Endocrine Society’s Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, showed that children exposed to maternal Covid during pregnancy showed lower birth weight, lower birth Body Mass Index (BMI), but accelerated postnatal weight gain, compared with those unexposed.
Pregnant women make up about 9 per cent of reproductive-aged women with Covid-19, and millions of babies will be exposed to maternal infection during foetal development over the next five years.
aceOur findings suggest that children exposed in utero to maternal Covid-19 have an altered growth pattern in early life that may increase their risk of obesity, diabetes and cardiovascular disease over time,” said Lindsay T. Fourman, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, US.
“There is still a lot of research needed to understand the effects of Covid-19 on pregnant women and their children,” Fourman said.
The researchers studied about 150 infants born to mothers who had Covid-19 during pregnancy and compared them with about 130 babies whose mothers did not have prenatal infection.
These changes have been associated with an increased risk for obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease in childhood and beyond.
“Our findings emphasise the importance of long-term follow-up of children exposed in utero to maternal Covid-19 infection, as well as widespread implementation of Covid-19 prevention strategies among pregnant individuals,” said Andrea G. Edlow, from the Hospital.
“Larger studies with longer follow-up duration are needed to confirm these associations.”
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