Dangers of COVID-19 for the next generation
COVID-19 could pose a risk to the health and life expectancy of people who have not yet been born. The pandemic may also pose a risk to the next generation.
By the end of 2020, around 300,000 small children could be born to mothers with SARS-CoV-2 and millions more will be born in families that have been exposed to enormous stress and upheaval from the pandemic, even if they were not infected themselves. This could lead to significant health effects in future generations, according to a study by researchers from the University of Southern California. The results of the analysis were published in the English-language specialist journal “Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease“Published.
What can be learned from the past
While the longer-term effects of COVID-19 on toddlers remain to be seen, some important lessons can be gleaned from the past, including the 1918 pandemic flu and previous coronavirus illnesses like SARS in 2002 and MERS in 2012, the researchers report.
Effects of the pandemic flu
The influenza pandemic of 1918 had long-term effects on the cohort still exposed in the uterus at the time, which resulted in earlier mortality in adulthood and more Diabetes, ischemic heart disease and depressions experienced after the age of 50, explains the team.
Effects of COVID-19 on unborn children?
It is possible that the COVID-19 pandemic may also have long-term effects on children who were in the uterus during the pandemic due to maternal infections and / or the Stress was exposed to the pandemic environment, add the experts. Maternal viral infections can affect fetuses in several ways, from direct transmission through the placenta to inflammatory reactions that disrupt metabolism in the uterus and negatively affect growth.
Are more premature babies expected?
While direct maternal-fetal transmission of the virus and serious birth defects appeared to be rare in previous coronavirus outbreaks, there were spikes in premature births and low birth weights in both the 2002 SARS and 2009 H1N1 flu outbreaks, with possible consequences the research team reports.
Stillbirth due to infection with SARS-CoV-2?
Increased premature birth rates could be linked to maternal SARS-CoV-2 infections, and various studies indicate that serious illness correlates with a higher risk of stillbirth, the researchers said. Other potential hazards, including the increased risk of blood clots caused by both pregnancy and severe COVID-19, also need further investigation.
Studies should be adapted
“We suggest that COVID-19 birth cohort studies consider collecting mother, fetus, newborn and placenta data immediately to assess the impact of exposure to the virus in the uterus on child development and adult health,” explains University of Southern California Professor Eileen Crimmins in one Press release.
Determine long-term consequences through lifelong examinations
These initial data should be followed by an analysis of the child’s growth and development and a lifelong study of health, behavioral patterns and cognitive functions, adds the expert.
Other effects of COVID-19
In addition to the direct risks of infection, the COVID-19 pandemic has unfortunately also increased the levels of stress, unemployment, food insecurity and domestic violence, and decreased or interrupted prenatal care. For these reasons, the researchers suggest that cohort studies should also include uninfected mothers and children. In addition, various socio-economic measures should be taken into account.
“The inclusion of information about social and economic pressures will enable comparisons between countries that are taking different measures to reduce the spread of the virus,” said Crimmins. Such types of comparisons can provide additional insights beyond the effects of COVID-19, such as socio-economic and social factors that can reduce the risk of preterm birth. (as)
Author and source information
This text complies with the requirements of specialist medical literature, medical guidelines and current studies and has been checked by doctors.
- Molly Crimmins Easterlin, Eileen M. Crimmins, Caleb E. Finch: Will prenatal exposure to SARS-CoV-2 define a birth cohort with accelerated aging in the century ahead?, in Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease (veröffentlicht 10.11.2020), Journal of Developmental Origins of Health and Disease
- University of Southern California: How will COVID-19 affect our next generation? (veröffentlicht 12.11.2020), University of Southern California
This article is for general guidance only and should not be used for self-diagnosis or self-treatment. He can not substitute a visit at the doctor.