COVID-19 in pregnancy: implications for fetal brain development

Lydia L. Shook, Elinor L. Sullivan, Jamie O. Lo, Roy H. Perlis, Andrea G. Edlow

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The impact of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection during pregnancy on the developing fetal brain is poorly understood. Other antenatal infections such as influenza have been associated with adverse neurodevelopmental outcomes in offspring. Although vertical transmission has been rarely observed in SARS-CoV-2 to date, given the potential for profound maternal immune activation (MIA), impact on the developing fetal brain is likely. Here we review evidence that SARS-CoV-2 and other viral infections during pregnancy can result in maternal, placental, and fetal immune activation, and ultimately in offspring neurodevelopmental morbidity. Finally, we highlight the need for cellular models of fetal brain development to better understand potential short- and long-term impacts of maternal SARS-CoV-2 infection on the next generation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)319-330
Number of pages12
JournalTrends in Molecular Medicine
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • fetal brain
  • neurodevelopment
  • placenta
  • pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Molecular Biology


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