Moms can pass Respiratory Tract Infections to Unborn Child

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Pregnant bellyRespiratory tract infection is a common problem seen among many newborns especially those that are born prematurely. Now a new research reveals that the most common virus that leads to these infections in children might be passed on from mother to the unborn child during pregnancy.

Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV) is one of the commonly found virus that may cause infection among newborns. But according to a research published online this week in the journal PLOS ONE, this virus may pass on from mother to child during pregnancy.

The research was conducted by Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital in animal models where it is seen that the RSV may spread to the placenta from the respiratory tract of the mother to the child.

Additionally, they found that the virus is not only present throughout pregnancy, but can remain after birth, in childhood and even into adulthood.

RSV is the main culprit for causing infant pneumonia and also development of asthma.

Giovanni Piedimonte, M.D., the study’s lead author and Chairman of Cleveland Clinic Children’s Hospital and the Pediatric Institute said,

“Epidemiologic evidence suggests that early-life RSV infection predisposes children to recurrent wheezing and asthma. This study challenges the current paradigm that RSV infection is acquired only after birth and shifts attention to prenatal effects of the virus, which may result in more severe and lasting consequences by interfering with an unborn baby’s critical developmental processes.”

Dr. Piedimonte has been the principal investigator or co-investigator of more than 30 research projects, and has authored and co-authored more than 250 journal articles, book chapters, monographs, editorials and abstracts. He holds 17 international patents and is frequently invited to speak nationally and internationally.

The researchers took rats which were inoculated with RSV infection during midterm pregnancy. Of those infected 30 percent of the fetuses had RSV. Also the lungs of 40 percent of the pups had the virus and 25 percent of those that reached adulthood.

The results may change the way respiratory tract infections are treated in infants as now expectant moms can be checked for the presence of the virus. Treatment of the mother might ensure that the unborn child remains safe, though before such a practice becomes common, the research needs more investigation and on humans.


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About the Author

Atula is a writer, traveler and a nature-lover. She is also mom to a boy who seems to have inherited all her creative genes. When Atula is not busy making up stories with her son, she writes for numerous magazines, websites and blogs. She is also working on her site on endangered species called

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