Turkish experts prove link between COVID and preterm birth
Researchers from Koç University have proven the relationship between COVID-19 and the risk of preterm birth, with the research published in the Journal of Medical Virology, a leading journal in its field.
The research conducted by professor Füsun Can, the deputy head of Koç University İşbank Center for Infectious Diseases (KUISCID), associate professor Ebru Çelik from the university’s medicine faculty and PhD student Gülin Özcan was the first in the literature.
There have been many studies in the world and in Türkiye that COVID-19 causes premature birth, but the research reveals the reason behind this, Can explained.
“We set out from the idea whether the virus disrupts the balance of good and bad microbes by affecting the vaginal microbiota.”
Stating that there is a lot of interest in the result and publication as a result of the studies that lasted for two years, Can said, “We continued our work actively during the pandemic period. We took samples from pregnant women with severe COVID-19 who were treated at our hospital.”
Samples were taken from pregnant women with COVID-19 and 28 control patients in total, Çelik noted.
“We were taking samples from our pregnant women at the 11th and 21st weeks. We wondered whether the virus caused preterm birth as some of these pregnant women had COVID-19 before we had the second sample.”
Four of them infected with the virus were in serious condition, three were in intensive care, and seven were moderately ill, she noted.
“We observed that this microbiota has changed by 70 percent. Two of our patients gave birth prematurely and one of the babies was born at the 25th week.”
They were unvaccinated as the country had not launched the vaccination program yet, she said. “This showed us once again the importance of the vaccine.”
“The next step is animal testing,” Çelik said, adding that other viral infections may also have reactions like these.
A total of 23,116 COVID-19 cases were reported in Türkiye between Sept. 26 and Oct. 2, the Health Ministry said in its weekly coronavirus statistics.
According to the ministry’s data, 24 COVID-19 patients lost their lives, while nearly 20,000 people recovered from the infection.
Since the first COVID-19 case was reported in March 2020, the coronavirus has infected more than 15 million people and killed over 100,000.