COVID-19 increases stillbirths during pregnancy: research

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About 1 in every 80 deliveries results in a stillbirth for women with COVID-19

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New studies suggest that pregnant women who become infected with the delta variant have a significantly higher risk of dying in labor or during delivery.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a report on Friday that examined 1.2 million deliveries in 736 hospitals across the country from March 2020 to September 2021.

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Stillbirths were rare overall, with a total of 8,154 in all deliveries. But researchers found that for women with COVID-19, one in 80 deliveries resulted in stillbirth. The rate was one in 155 among the uninfected.

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According to studies, among people with COVID-19, stillbirths were more common in people with chronic high blood pressure and other complications, including those in intensive care or breathing machines.

“These findings underscore the importance of COVID-19 prevention strategies, including vaccination before or during pregnancy,” said CDC researcher Carla DeSisto and co-authors.

There is no information about how many women had received COVID-19 shots, although the authors noted that the US vaccination rate among pregnant women after the highly contagious Delta variant was just 30% this past summer.

Researchers found that pregnant women infected with COVID-19 were more likely to develop a serious, even fatal, disease and also faced an increased risk of premature birth and other complications . Previous studies on stillbirth and COVID-19 had mixed findings, but the new report raises concerns among obstetrics and anecdotal data.

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While the risk for stillbirth is low, anyone who is pregnant should not underestimate the dangers of COVID-19, says Dr. Mark Turantine said. She helped write the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ recommendations for COVID-19 vaccination in pregnancy.

“What’s really sad is that we have a 10-month vaccine that has been highly effective, and we can’t convince people to take advantage of it,” Turantine said of the minority of vaccine resistances.

Some experts have speculated that the virus may cause inflammation in the placenta or other abnormalities that could harm the fetus.

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Joseph Bigio, a specialist in high-risk pregnancies at Ochsner Health in New Orleans, said the study does not prove that COVID-19 causes stillbirth. He said it’s possible that some of the women were so seriously ill that doctors trying to keep them alive “couldn’t intervene on behalf of the fetuses they knew were in trouble.”

The researchers relied on medical records and noted that they were unable to determine whether the COVID-19 diagnoses listed at the time of delivery represented current or past infections.

In general, stillbirths are more common among black people who become pregnant over age 35 or who smoke tobacco during pregnancy.

The study did not include pregnancy outcomes based on race, an area the authors said they plan to examine in future research “because COVID-19 disproportionately affected many racial and ethnic minority groups.” which puts them at higher risk of getting sick and dying.”


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