An Israeli hospital said on Tuesday that a woman gave birth to a stillborn fetus that had been infected with the coronavirus—with details describing that the fetus had contracted the virus through the placenta, according to The Times of Israel.
Though there are still no conclusive answers as to the cause of death of the fetus, medical professionals are currently operating under the possibility that the fetus died due to coronavirus complications.
The 29-year-old pregnant woman, during the 25th week of her pregnancy, went to get checked out due to a couple days of fever and coronavirus symptoms, noting that there was no movement by the fetus.
The results quickly returned, showing that she had contracted the virus, and that the fetus had also been infected with the harmful contagion, according to details discovered after the stillbirth, according to the New York Post.
“The fetus was infected through the placenta and with a very high degree of certainty, [we can say] died due to coronavirus,” Dr. Tal Brosh, head of the Infectious Disease Department at the Assuta Hospital in Ashdod, said.
Dr. Yossi Tobin—the director of the maternity ward at the hospital—agreed that the cause of death was likely due to the virus because of the way the fetus was infected in utero.
“It was an intrauterine infection of the fetus, which can cause placental infection and death,” Tobin said. “This is a rare occurrence because a baby is usually infected with coronavirus after birth, as a result of contact with the mother. The fact that we were able to find out that they were already positive in the womb indicates a high probability that [the fetus] died as a result of coronavirus.”
“I was as careful as I could be to avoid infection,” the mother told the Ynet news site. “It is important to get the coronavirus vaccine to save those dear to us. I am grateful to the medical teams who did their best and were supportive.”
The incident was the first of its kind in the Middle Eastern country and a very rare occurrence around the world. Brosh went on to say that there were not many instances of a fetus being infected, though there have been reports of such an event in Brazil.
“We’ve had three stillbirths of women who were infected with the virus, but have not found the unborn babies infected before this case,” Brosh said.
“If the mother had been vaccinated in the first or second trimester, this could have been avoided,” Brosh said, adding that the pregnant women have a risk complications when the coronavirus is involved.
Though it is still unclear, health professionals presume that some of the women who are carrying children could have been infected with the British strain of the contagion—one that is said to be more deadly and infectious.
The Health Ministry has encouraged pregnant women to get the coronavirus vaccineto fight against the possibility of their unborn child being infected.
The United States Centers for Disease Control has also made the argument that pregnant women should be able to acquire the vaccine, noting that they are at a high risk of contracting severe disease or death due to the contagion.
“People who are pregnant and part of a group recommended to receive the COVID-19 vaccine may choose to be vaccinated,” the agency said in a statement.
There is currently no data to help round out details about the possibility of pregnant women passing on the contagion to their unborn children, making the prospect of pregnancy high-risk.
Due to the rarity of women passing the contagion on to their unborn children, there is little data to suggest that the vaccine could help protect the unborn child against infection.