According to a recent study, it has been found that babies born to mothers with SARS-CoV-2 infection may have higher risk of immune cells known to be involved in rapid response to the viral infection. Researchers at King’s College London observed the immune system of 30 babies born to mothers exposed to SARS-CoV-2 at different stages of pregnancy.
The study has been published in the journal Nature Immunology and it found that babies born to mothers with current or ongoing infection had higher levels of circulating intermediaries as well as increased percentages of cells known to be involved in rapid response to infection.
The researchers said that in babies born to mothers who had COVID-19 earlier in pregnancy the capability of immune cells to make mediators were boosted. They said, this suggests that infection in the mother has changed the immune system of the baby.
The researchers also found that the mothers pass antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 to their baby through the placenta which is also known as the transfer of passive immunity. While they said, this was particularly obvious if the infection was earlier in pregnancy.
“This data highlights that the neonatal immune system can be affected by the maternal state even in the absence of direct infection of the baby,” said Deena Gibbons from King’s College London.
“This opens up many avenues of research and suggests that other maternal factors may be capable of changing foetal immune system development,” said Gibbons, the corresponding author of the study.
Sarah Gee, the first author of the paper and a PhD pupil at King’s College London, noted that it’ll be arresting to know whether these pure changes allow the babe to make better responses to infections after birth.
The study authors will be testing additional babes to see whether others may have specific responses to SARS-CoV-2 suggesting the transfer of the disease from the ma to the baby– which does appear to be rare.
They’re also looking at how mother infection may be changing the pure system of the babe and how long these changes might remain.