Babies born to mothers infected with COVID during pregnancy are developmentally behind

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A new study shows babies born to mothers who were infected with COVID-19 during pregnancy are at risk of developmental delays. 

A team of scientists at Harvard Medical School assessed close to 8,000 babies born between March 2020 and September 2020. They evaluated all babies’ physical and cognitive development approximately a year later. 

The infants whose moms had the coronavirus at the time of delivery were more likely to have an expressive language disorder, lower motor function skills, and speech delays. 

“Babies born to moms who have an infection during pregnancy do have a higher risk of developmental disorders,” Dr. Emily Scott, a pediatrician at Riley Children’s Health, told News 8. “Anything from cerebral palsy to autism to other different delays. So, it would make sense that COVID would see the same kind of effect in place as well.”

Scott says the greatest risk of developmental disorders were seen in infants whose moms were infected during their third trimester. This is to be expected, she says, because a baby’s brain grows most rapidly in the third trimester.  

The doctor says it’s critical that health care providers and families understand the study was small. Still, the findings are important and, she says, if mothers were infected with COVID during their pregnancy and have concerns, they should talk to their babies’ pediatricians.