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Study: Covid-19 May Attack Placenta in Pregnant Women

A small study of 16 pregnant women who tested positive for Covid-19 found evidence of injury to the placenta, the organ that acts as the gut, kidneys, liver and lungs for a fetus during pregnancy.

Pathological exams completed directly following birth found evidence of insufficient blood flow from the mother to the fetus and blood clots in the placenta.

That might interfere with the placenta’s role in delivering oxygen and nutrients from the mother’s blood stream to the growing baby and removing waste products from the baby’s blood.

“Not to paint a scary picture, but these findings worry me,” said Northwestern Medicine obstetrician Dr. Emily Miller, coauthor of the study published Friday in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, in a statement.

Despite following only 16 women, the authors said the study is the largest examination of the health of placentas in women who tested positive for Covid-19 done to date.

“I don’t want to draw sweeping conclusions from a small study, but this preliminary glimpse into how Covid-19 might cause changes in the placenta carries some pretty significant implications for the health of a pregnancy,” said Miller, an assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

“We must discuss whether we should change how we monitor pregnant women right now,” Miller said, which she said might be done by testing the oxygen delivery of the placenta during the pregnancy and following the growth of babies via ultrasounds.

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Study: Inducing Pregnant Women At Term Reduces C-Section Rate

From NPR, a new report and study suggests that inducing pregnant women at term or close to term actually reduces the C-Section Rate. Listen and follow below:



Healthy women with normal pregnancies can opt to have labor induced without worrying that the decision will make a cesarean section more likely, according to a major study published in this week’s New England Journal of Medicine.

Obstetricians currently induce labor when a delivery has failed to progress, or if a woman is far overdue for giving birth. But when women who have no medical need for induced labor have talked to their doctors, “We’ve been saying, ‘Well you know one thing you need to know is it does increase the C-section rate,’ ” says. Dr. Uma Reddy, an obstetrics researcher at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

That advice was based on some older medical research. But researchers had doubts about that conclusion. So Reddy helped organize a study involving more than 6,000 first-time mothers with uncomplicated pregnancies, to put the idea to the test.

Half the pregnant women followed the normal course of labor; the other half had labor induced when the baby was full term, at 39 weeks. Overall, mothers and babies did fine when labor was induced with a drug.

“I think the most surprising finding was a decrease in the C-section rate,” Reddy says.

That rate dropped from 22 percent among the women who weren’t automatically induced to 19 percent for those whose labor was induced. Dr. William Grobman, the study’s first author and a professor of obstetrics at Northwestern University, says it’s an important goal to reduce the rate of cesarean sections in the U.S. So even a small percentage drop in the rate can have benefits overall.

But an individual woman might or might not consider that 3-percentage-point drop a big deal. “I think that’s not really for me to decide,” he says. “I think that’s for patients to decide.

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