Research Papers

Maternal COVID-19 leaves a lasting immunological impression on the fetus

2021-11-18 03:22

Whether COVID-19 during pregnancy affects the health of children is unclear. Data now show that SARS-CoV-2 infection of mothers can prime the fetal immune response indirectly even when the virus does not infect the fetus.

Nearly two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, important questions remain unanswered about the risks that the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 poses to infants born to mothers who had COVID-19 during pregnancy. There is cause for concern, as activation of the maternal immune system has been shown to adversely affect fetal neurodevelopment and increase the long-term risk of neuropsychiatric disorders in mouse models and in humans. In this issue, Gee et al. provide the first evidence linking maternal COVID-19 with dysregulation of the fetal immune system and activation of multiple innate, innate-like and adaptive immune cells in neonatal cord blood3. Similar to other published studies showing a very low rate of vertical transmission of SARS-CoV-2, congenital infection in this neonatal cohort may have occurred in only a single case (1 of 30 (~3%)). What remains unclear is whether and how a maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection affects fetal immunity and development in the absence of fetal viral infection.혻 [See More Nature Immunology]
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