Birth during COVID-19 pandemic may negatively impact neurodevelopment in infants: JAMA
New York, New York: Lauren C. Shuffrey and colleagues published new research in which they discovered that birth during the pandemic, but not in utero exposure to maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection, was related to abnormalities in neurodevelopment at 6 months. The findings of this study, published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics support the need for long-term monitoring of children born during the COVID-19 pandemic.
There may be links between in utero exposure to mother SARS-CoV-2 infection and neurodevelopment, however, this is currently unclear. As a result, the purpose of this study was to look at the links between mother SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy, being born during the COVID-19 pandemic regardless of maternal SARS-CoV-2 status, and neurodevelopment at 6 months.
The COVID-19 Mother Baby Outcomes Initiative at Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City included a cohort of newborns exposed to mother SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy and unexposed controls. All women who gave birth at Columbia University Irving Medical Center while infected with SARS-CoV-2 during their pregnancy were contacted. Women with unexposed babies were addressed because they had a comparable gestational age at birth, date of birth, sex, and mode of delivery. At 6 months, neurodevelopment was examined using the Ages & Stages Questionnaire, 3rd Edition (ASQ-3). Secondary analyses included a historical group of babies born before the pandemic who had completed the 6-month ASQ-3.
Maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy and delivery during the COVID-19 pandemic was included in the study. The outcomes were scores on the five ASQ-3 subdomains, with the hypothesis being that maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy was related to delays in social and motor development at 6 months.
The key findings were:
1. 596 of the 1706 women contacted enrolled; 385 were invited to a 6-month assessment, with 272 (70.6%) completing the ASQ-3.
2. Data for 255 newborns recruited in the COVID-19 Mother Baby Outcomes Initiative were available.
3. Data from a historical group of 62 babies born prior to the epidemic were also available. Regardless of infection timing or intensity, in utero exposure to mother SARS-CoV-2 infection was not related with significant differences on any ASQ-3 subdomain.
4. In fully adjusted models, however, infants born during the pandemic had significantly lower scores on gross motor, fine motor, and personal-social subdomains when compared to the historical group.
In conclusion, the observed link between pandemic birth and neurodevelopmental state, regardless of mother SARS-CoV-2 status, suggests a possible mechanism involving maternal pandemic-related anxiety that merits further exploration.
Shuffrey LC, Firestein MR, Kyle MH, et al. Association of Birth During the COVID-19 Pandemic With Neurodevelopmental Status at 6 Months in Infants With and Without In Utero Exposure to Maternal SARS-CoV-2 Infection. JAMA Pediatr. Published online January 04, 2022. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2021.5563