New government data shows that pregnant women with COVID-19 have a higher chance of stillbirths than those who aren't infected.
Friday's report by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention examined 1.2 Million deliveries in 736 hospitals across the country between March 2020 and September 2021.
Stillbirths are extremely rare, with only 8,154 of all births resulting in stillbirths. Researchers found that only 1 in 80 women with COVID-19 had a stillbirth. It was 1 in 155 for the uninfected.
Stillbirths were more common among COVID-19 patients.
Carla DeSisto, a CDC researcher, and her co-authors stated that these findings "underline the importance of COVID-19 preventive strategies, including vaccination during or before pregnancy."
Although there is no information about how many people have received COVID-19 shots since the summer of delta, the authors pointed out that the U.S. vaccine rate among pregnant women was 30%.
People with COVID-19 pregnancies are more likely to get severe or fatal illness than other women. They also have a higher risk of having preterm babies and other complications. While previous studies on stillbirths with COVID-19 were mixed, the new report raises concern among obstetricians as well as anecdotal data.
Although stillbirths are rare, pregnant women should not underestimate the dangers of COVID-19. Dr. Mark Turrentine is a Baylor College of Medicine professor in Houston. He was a key contributor to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommendations for COVID-19 vaccine in pregnancy.
Turrentine stated, "What's really tragic is that we have 10 months worth of a vaccine which's been extremely effective and we just can’t convince people to use this."
Experts speculate that the virus could cause inflammation of the placenta, or other abnormalities that could be harmful to the fetus.
Ochsner Health in New Orleans specialist in high-risk pregnancies, Dr. Joseph Biggio said that the study does not prove that COVID-19 causes stillbirths. It's possible that some women became so sick that doctors couldn't save them.
Researchers relied on medical records and found that they couldn't determine whether the COVID-19 diagnoses at delivery were current or past infections.
Stillbirths are more common in Black women, those who have been pregnant for over 35 years, and those who smoke during pregnancy.
The authors stated that they will investigate the issue of pregnancy outcomes by race in future research.