Could Microbes Play a Role in COVID-19 Outcomes for Pregnant Mothers, Infants?

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise and as the world waits for a vaccine, researchers are continuing to study various topics related to the virus, potential vaccines, and treatment therapies. Researchers, including Cheryl Gale, MD, FAAP, Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics Division of Neonatology, are beginning to question the effectiveness of a potential vaccine for pregnant women and their infant. Pregnant women and children are often understudied in clinical research studies and trials, leading to shortfalls in research surrounding the safety and effectiveness of various treatment and prevention therapies. 

With this gap in information, Dr. Gale began thinking of ways to benefit the mothers and their infants, looking specifically at ways to determine the impact of COVID-19 on their health. After applying for the CO:VID grant (Collaborative Outcomes: Visionary Innovation & Discovery), she used this money to start research looking into bacterial microbes, specifically in one's gut, and their role in how our immune systems react to the SARS-CoV-2 strain. Her goal is to learn more about if a relationship exists between the normal microbiome that inhabits our intestinal tract and better health outcomes in pregnant women. 

To accomplish this goal, Dr. Gale will team up with U of M’s Clinical and Translational Science Institute to construct a database of pregnant women and infants who have been infected with and affected by the COVID-19 virus. With this database, researchers can then reach out to those families within the near future, specifically when the infant is around 1 month & 6 months, to collect more information about the infant’s and mother’s health after the COVID infection. Depending on the results of the study, this data could be applied to future clinical studies to help initiate and improve treatments and preventative measures for pregnant women and their infants, increasing their safety and efficacy. To learn more about this study and Dr. Gale’s work, follow this link.

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