Pregnant people infected with coronavirus more at risk for stillbirths: CDC study

Pregnant people infected with COVID-19 are more at risk for stillbirths, a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) analysis found, providing further evidence supporting COVID-19 vaccines for those carrying a child. 

The analysis released on Friday determined that 1.26 percent of deliveries between March 2020 and September 2021 among people infected with COVID-19 resulted in stillbirths, compared to 0.65 percent of deliveries among non-infected people.

Out of the 1.2 million deliveries across 736 hospitals in that time period, 21,653 occurred among people with COVID-19, amounting to about 1.73 percent.

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The CDC defined stillbirths as fetal deaths that occurred at at least 20 weeks' gestation.

The agency also published a report on the 15 deaths associated with  COVID-19 among pregnant people in Mississippi between March 1, 2020 and Oct. 6, 2021.

These 15 fatalities occurred among people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 during pregnancy or within 90 days after pregnancy. None of the pregnant people were fully vaccinated. 

As of September, about 97 percent of pregnant people hospitalized with confirmed COVID-19 this year were unvaccinated.

The risk for stillbirth increased when the delta variant was predominant in the U.S. starting in July. Between July and September, 2.7 percent of deliveries among infected pregnant people resulted in a stillbirth, while 0.63 percent of deliveries among noninfected people had the same outcome. 

Before the delta variant was dominant, 0.98 percent of deliveries among those with COVID-19 resulted in a stillbirth, compared to 0.64 percent of deliveries among noninfected people.  

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The risk of stillbirth is rare, but the rate among COVID-19-infected pregnant people was higher than the pre-pandemic rate of 0.59 percent.

The vaccination status among the subjects was unknown, although the CDC noted that with 30 percent of pregnant women vaccinated as of July and the effectiveness of the vaccines, “most women with COVID-19 at delivery were likely unvaccinated.”

“Implementing evidence-based COVID-19 prevention strategies, including vaccination before or during pregnancy, is critical to reducing the impact of COVID-19 on stillbirths,” the report read. 

Updated at 1:19 p.m.