London- A team of researchers has discovered that the more severely a mother is infected with Covid-19, the more likely she is to experience preterm birth.
The researchers reported that the rate of preterm birth in nearly 1,000 pregnant women, who tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, was a function of the severity of infection.
"The more severe the SARS-CoV-2 infection, the greater the risk of preterm birth," said researcher Roberto Romero from the Wayne State University School of Medicine in the US.
"There was a dose-dependent relationship between the severity of SARS-CoV-2 infection and the risk of prematurity," Romero added.
For the study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the team included data from 14 National Health Service (NHS) maternity hospitals in the UK to assess the effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection in pregnancy.
The excess rate of premature birth, they report, is largely due to medically-induced preterm birth brought about by concerns for health of the mother, such as preeclampsia.
Preterm birth, the leading cause of perinatal morbidity and mortality worldwide, is defined as one that occurs before 37 weeks of gestation.
Two-thirds of preterm births are due to the spontaneous onset of preterm labour. The remaining third is due to medical conditions that affect either the mother or the unborn baby that necessitate delivery.
The more severe the Covid-19 infection, the greater the risk of preeclampsia, a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy.
The condition is responsible for 76,000 maternal deaths and more than 5,00,000 infant deaths every year.
Read More► How White Blood Cells Aid in Predicting Covid-19 Severity
London - Covid-19 disease severity seems to be affected by the characteristics of white blood cells called granulocytes, which are part of the innate immune system.
Combined measurements of granulocytes and well-known biomarkers in the blood can predict the severity of the disease, according to a new study from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden.
Granulocytes are a family of white blood cells that include neutrophils, eosinophils and basophils.
They are part of the so-called innate immune system, which is the body's first line of defence against pathogens.
There are many studies on how SARS-CoV-2 affects various components of the immune system, but there is still a lack of knowledge about the role of granulocytes in Covid-19.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institutet have now investigated the characteristics of granulocytes in the blood during the early phase of SARS-CoV-2 infection in a total of 26 hospitalised patients with Covid-19 at the Karolinska University Hospital.
They also performed follow-up analyses four months after hospital discharge and compared these with analyses of healthy uninfected individuals.
Their results, published in the journal PNAS, may eventually contribute to more tailored treatments for Covid-19 patients.
"Our study shows significantly altered characteristics of all granulocyte subsets in Covid-19A patients and this can be linked to the severity of the disease", said lead author Magda Lourda, who is a researcher at the Department of Medicine, Huddinge, at Karolinska Institutet.
Combined measurements of granulocyte characteristics and widely used biomarkers in the blood called C-reactive protein (CRP) and creatinine, could predict key clinical features such as respiratory function and multiorgan failure.
"The finding needs to be taken with caution considering the limited size of our study cohort, but our hope is that these combined measurements can be used to predict the severity of the disease, resulting in more tailored treatments for Covid-19 patients," Lourda said.
Read More► How important is nutrition for eyes during Covid
New York - Women who contract Covid-19 during pregnancy are at significantly higher risk of developing pre-eclampsia, the leading cause of maternal and infant death worldwide, according to a new study.
Pre-eclampsia is a sudden increase in blood pressure after the 20th week of pregnancy.
The study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, showed that women with SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy had 62 per cent higher odds of developing preeclampsia than those without the infection during pregnancy.
"This association was remarkably consistent across all predefined subgroups. Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 infection during pregnancy was associated with a significant increase in the odds of pre-eclampsia with severe features, eclampsia and HELLP syndrome," said Roberto Romero, Professor of Molecular Obstetrics and Genetics at the Wayne State University School of Medicine.
HELLP syndrome is a form of severe pre-eclampsia that includes hemolysis (the rupturing of red blood cells), elevated liver enzymes and a low platelet count.
The team published their findings after reviewing 28 previous studies that included 790,954 pregnant women, including 15,524 diagnosed with Covid-19 infection.
"Both asymptomatic and symptomatic infection significantly increased the risk of pre-eclampsia," Romero said.
"Nevertheless, the odds of developing pre-eclampsia were higher among patients with symptomatic illness than among those with asymptomatic illness."
Pre-eclampsia warning signs, in addition to elevated blood pressure, can include headaches, swelling in the face and hands, blurred vision, chest pain and shortness of breath.
The condition is responsible for 76,000 maternal deaths and more than 500,000 infant deaths every year, according to estimates from the Pre-eclampsia Foundation.
The babies of pre-eclamptic mothers are affected by the condition and may develop intrauterine growth restriction or die in utero.
The researchers said health care professionals should be aware of the association and closely monitor pregnant women who are infected for early detection of pre-eclampsia.
A separate study, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology-Maternal-Fetal Medicine, showed that women who receive the mRNA Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy pass high levels of antibodies to their babies.
The study of 36 newborns whose mothers received either the Pfizer-BioNTech or Moderna Covid-19 vaccine during pregnancy showed that 100 per cent of the infants had protective antibodies at birth.
Read More► Viral fever rages in Bihar among kids
<br>People suffering from cardiovascular diseases have had it worse during the ongoing pandemic. Heart patients have been living in the constant fear of sudden deaths and severe infections. Over the past one year, we have witnessed a spike in the number of deaths due to cardiac arrest, post Covid infections. During the second wave, one of the most common aftereffects was sudden deaths due to cardiac arrest post Covid. Therefore, it was advised that people with a history of heart diseases should get themselves vaccinated. Although people believe in myths and misconceptions around Covid-19 vaccines, it is important, especially for heart patients to take the vaccine shot. Hence, it is now imperative to address the following question: are Covid-19 vaccine safe for people with heart conditions?
Some safety concerns or adverse reactions of Covid-19 vaccinations that have arose are guillan-barre syndrome, increased blood clots, myocarditis (inflammation of the heart muscle), or anaphylaxis (acute allergic reaction to an antigen). However, what has been documented is that most of the mentioned side-effects tend to show up weeks following vaccination, and not long after it. It has been further witnessed that the <br>side-effects, which have consequential risks appear, most commonly after a month of inoculation. Hence, they can be managed well if diagnosed in time. There are no <br>side-effects that are severely detrimental to our health and well-being.
Moreover, the severe side-effects associated with vaccines are fewer than reported averages across the general population. For example, the risk of developing gullian-barre syndrome is said to be 17 times more likely with general infections in comparison to vaccines.
Additionally, reports suggest that Covid-19 vaccines are not only safe for people with heart diseases, but they are also very important. We are at a point where there is a growing risk of emerging variants, there heart patient being one of the most vulnerable populations in the society need to get their vaccine shots as soon as possible.
If one is still concerned about the safety, they must note that the vaccines are safe for all age groups. Earlier this year, the American Heart Association released a statement urging everyone fitting the eligibility criteria to get their vaccination shots. The statement had particularly mentioned people with cardiovascular risk factors, heart diseases, and heart attack and stroke survivors to get vaccinated as soon as possible since they are at a greater risk from the virus than the vaccine.
However, some common effects to note post vaccination are fever, fatigue, headache, and joint pain. Additionally, pain in the injection site may also be witnessed. Whether a person is healthy or is someone with a pre-existing heart ailment, these side-effects from the vaccine will be the same in everyone. As a heart patient, the symptoms will not differ from others. It is, however, always recommended to consult your doctor and also keep a constant check post vaccination.
It is most important to note that whether a person is healthy or is someone with a heart ailment, getting vaccinated does not mean that one is safe from contracting the virus. Vaccination reduces the chances for hospitalization; however, cases of breakthrough infections have increased in current times with the emergence of new variants. Therefore, physical distancing, wearing a mask, maintaining hand hygiene, and staying at home is extremely important.
Nishith Chandra -- Director, Interventional Cardiology, Fortis Escorts Heart Institute, Okhla road, New Delhi
(IANSlife can be contacted at [email protected])
As Covid wreaked havoc throughout the world, working professionals and students moved to remote work and learning which resulted in increased dependence on various screens, leading to several eye problems. Proper nutrition for the eye is, thus, imperative, said health experts on Tuesday.
The most common eye problems reported by children and working people during the pandemic include eye fatigue, dry and irritated eyes, fuzzy vision, and nearsightedness. This is further exacerbated by low physical activity, irregular eating habits, frequent snacking, and poor food quality during the pandemic.
"Every day, we encounter twenty to thirty patients who come to us complaining of eye discomfort. However, correct nutrition can offer the necessary support for ocular function, protect the eye from damaging light, and prevent age-related degenerative illnesses," Dr Vineet Sehgal, Senior Consultant at Sharp Sight Eye Hospitals, said.
Further, Covid-19, which is majorly a respiratory disease and is known to affect lungs, also causes modest to severe eye problems.
Some patients may develop conjunctivitis, irritated eyes, light sensitivity, and eye discomfort, which may last longer than two weeks.
"People who have a severe Covid-19 infection are at a high risk of having ocular abnormalities like vascular occlusion," Sehgal said.
Long-term use of steroids also increases the risk of mucormycosis -- a severe consequence occurring in Covid patients, particularly those who are diabetic or immune-compromised. Infection of the nose and sinuses that spread to the orbit can cause vision loss or even death, if not treated promptly.
Long Covid also affects the eyes with people reporting the most frequent symptom -- conjunctivitis.
"Conjunctivitis can be treated with medicine, but, in certain cases, the retina and retinal vessels are damaged, resulting in long-term visual loss. This blockage of retinal veins not only causes substantial vision loss, but also takes a long time to heal," Sehgal said.
Including a diet rich in seasonal fruits and vegetables which give vitamins, minerals and antioxidants can improve eye health.
"Consuming minerals, such as lutein and zeaxanthin, as well as vitamins C, E, and zinc, have been associated with a decreased risk of serious eye diseases, such as age-related macular degeneration," Nabanita Saha, Chief Clinical Dietician, Manipal Hospitals, Bengaluru, said.
"The nutritional needs for eye health are complicated, but some nutrients, such as green leafy vegetables, fruits, and nuts are very crucial. Physical exercise, in conjunction with a healthy diet, has been found to help prevent eye diseases," she added.
In addition, if any patient, recovering from Covid, experiences symptoms like stuffiness in the nose, swelling around the eyes or nose, blurry vision, double vision, or pain around eyes/nose, they should immediately see an eye doctor, experts suggested.
New Delhi, Sep 7 (IANS) The ability to evade neutralising antibodies while increasing infectivity is the reason why the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2 has turned dominant in several countries including the UK, the US and India, according to an international team of researchers.Researchers from National Centre for Disease Control, Delhi, under the Ministry of Health; CSIR Institute of Genomics and Integrative Biology, Delhi, and University of Cambridge in the UK examined how the Delta variant was able to evade the immune response.The team extracted serum from blood samples from individuals who had previously been infected with the coronavirus or who had been vaccinated with either the Oxford/AstraZeneca or Pfizer vaccines.Serum contains antibodies raised in response to infection or vaccination.They found that the Delta variant virus was 5.7-fold less sensitive to the sera from previously-infected individuals, and as much as eight-fold less sensitive to vaccine sera, compared with the Alpha variant. In other words, it takes eight times as many antibodies from a vaccinated individual to block the virus.Consistent with this, an analysis of over 100 infected healthcare workers at three Delhi hospitals, nearly all of whom had been vaccinated against SARS-CoV-2, found the Delta variant to be transmitted between vaccinated staff to a greater extent than the alpha variant. The findings are detailed in the journal Nature."Infection of vaccinated healthcare workers with the Delta variant is a significant problem. Although they themselves may only experience mild Covid, they risk infecting individuals who have suboptimal immune responses to vaccination due to underlying health conditions -- and these patients could then be at risk of severe disease," said Professor Anurag Agrawal from the CSIR Institute.Further, using 3D airway organoids -- 'mini-organs' grown from cells from the airway, which mimic its behaviour -- the team studied what happens when the virus reaches the respiratory tract. Working under secure conditions, the team used both a live virus and a 'pseudotyped virus' -- a synthetic form of the virus that mimicked key mutations on the Delta variant -- and used this to infect the organoids.They found that the Delta variant was more efficient at breaking into the cells compared with other variants as it carried a larger number of cleaved spikes on its surface. Once inside the cells, the variant was also better able to replicate. Both of these factors give the virus a selection advantage compared to other variants, helping explain why it has become so dominant."We urgently need to consider ways of boosting vaccine responses against variants among healthcare workers. It also suggests infection control measures will need to continue in the post-vaccine era," Agrawal said.--IANSrvt/in