A latest study has proved that coronavirus can infect embryos and also result in miscarriages.
According to a new report by Indian Council of Medical Research-National Institute For Research (ICMR-NIRRH), miscarriage due to COVID-19 is very much a possibility because embryos that are as old as five days can develop receptors. These provide an easy passage to the Sars-CoV-2 virus which causes Covid-19.
This study was conducted on 45 human embryos donated after IVF procedures at fertility clinics.
Miscarriage Due To COVID-19 Is Possible, Says Study
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The new study highlighted that embryos can get infected with coronavirus under the following circumstances:
- If the expecting mum is infected with the virus
- Or, if the infection has occurred during the IVF procedure in labs
This can increase the chance of having a miscarriage. The infection in the embryo can also be the reason for failure to conceive both naturally as well as through IVF.
Even though there is no specific data available on the total miscarriages due to covid, but a large number of hospitals have reported such cases.
Embryos Became Receptors
A receptor is a specific protein that acts as an entry point to the virus to hooks onto and infects the other human cells. Studies revealed that Sars-CoV-2 infects the lungs through the receptor — angiotensin.
It can infect ACE2-expressing cells at local sites, thus causing a multi-organ injury. Note, there are actually many other organs that are susceptible to the virus.
The new study found that many cells of the embryos that were fertilised as early as five days express the receptors — ACE2 and TMPRSS2
The new study thus establishes that embryos are susceptible to getting infected either through vertical transmission, which is from the infected mum to her foetus or horizontal transmission during IVF procedures.
Why Early Embryos Stand At Risk?
Dr Deepak Modi, who was the lead investigator of the study said, "The same cells can also allow virus multiplication and growth inside the embryonic cells. This will not only harm the developing embryo, but it may also lead to their death."
The research team further found that along with ACE2, the cells of early embryos have receptors for other coronaviruses. Thus, making them highly likely to get infected.
Doctors in India have surely noticed a rise in first and second-trimester miscarriages among coronavirus infected mums. But more research is needed to substantiate these claims globally.
Risk Of Transmission During IVF Procedure
Dr Modi said that Covid-19 can spread from an asymptomatic carrier, infecting the embryo. He further highlighted how the virus can stay alive on the surfaces of the lab and even cold chains like liquid nitrogen, where the embryos are preserved.
The reason why one needs to be careful is because once the virus gets in touch with the embryo, it will not only infect them but will also multiply. So, if a woman tests positive for coronavirus while undergoing the treatment, doctors may suggest a delay until she recovers completely.
The ICMR had earlier issued guidelines for recommencing ART (assisted reproductive technology) services amid the pandemic.
Late diagnosis of COVID-19 with Dengue and Malaria can lead to miscarriage
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Last year, ICMR had conducted a study that revealed a late diagnosis of the COVID infection with dengue and malaria in pregnant mums can often lead to severe complications, including miscarriage.
In both coronavirus and in mosquito-borne diseases, patients develop similar symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever and body ache, which leads to confusion and often misdiagnosis.
When a woman gets detected with coronavirus, doctors often don't test them for dengue and malaria. This leads to a delay in the diagnosis of the co-infection.
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Research shows that pregnant women are at greater risk of severe illness and death from Covid-19. This risk increases in those who have co-morbidities like diabetes. Keeping this in mind, most countries have also recently opened up vaccines to pregnant women.
Most doctors agree that a vaccine is the best shield against fighting Covid-19. Studies have shown that there is no risk to the fetus and in fact, pregnant mums can pass on their antibodies to their newborn kids.
However, remember, every pregnancy is different. So consult your doctor if you have any doubts regarding vaccination. Even if you are vaccinated, don't let your guard down.
Wear your masks, sanitise your hands, eat healthy, and sleep well.
News source: Hindustan Times
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