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Abnormal blood flow was recently discovered in placentas of women with cases of coronavirus, which could imply compromised pregnancies and adverse outcomes, according to a study from Northwestern University.

The study, published May 22 in the American Journal of Clinical Pathology, showed evidence of how the virus can inflict injury to the placenta. Researchers examined placentas of 16 pregnant women who delivered babies between March 18 to May 5. Though one pregnancy resulted in a second-trimester miscarriage, all of the other 15 babies were born healthy and free of the virus.


Reports have surfaced of pregnant women contracting coronavirus, though it is deemed rare for the infant to test positive as well. Take Angela Primachenko, for example, who recently tested COVID-19 positive at 33 weeks pregnant. She endured a medically induced coma while doctors at Legacy Salmon Creek Medical Center induced labor in a bid to protect her unborn daughter’s life. Primachenko’s daughter, Ava, was born healthy and tested negative for the disease.

Researchers at Northwestern University suggest increased monitoring of pregnant women with COVID-19 after recent data showed the virus can cause injury to the placenta. (iStock)

Researchers at Northwestern University suggest increased monitoring of pregnant women with COVID-19 after recent data showed the virus can cause injury to the placenta. (iStock)

“Most of these babies were delivered full-term after otherwise normal pregnancies, so you wouldn’t expect to find anything wrong with the placentas, but this virus appears to be inducing some injury in the placenta,” said senior author Dr. Jeffrey Goldstein, assistant professor of pathology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a Northwestern Medicine pathologist. “It doesn’t appear to be inducing negative outcomes in live-born infants, based on our limited data, but it does validate the idea that women with COVID should be monitored more closely.”


The study findings worried co-author Dr. Emily Miller, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Feinberg and a Northwestern Medicine obstetrician.

“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,” Miller said. “We must discuss whether we should change how we monitor pregnant women right now.”


Goldstein said the findings support that there may be something clot-forming about coronavirus, and it’s happening in the placenta. In general, blood clots are known to cause strokes, heart attacks, and serious blockages in the legs and lungs.

Amid the coronavirus crisis, doctors have noticed a troubling blood-clotting phenomenon, which is occurring more frequently in patients who have the virus. These clots are also being discovered in younger coronavirus patients and can result in sudden strokes or death.

With such serious health implications at risk, the researchers advise increased monitoring for pregnant women with COVID-19.

Fox News’ Madeline Farber and David Aaro contributed to this report.

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