CDC study finds stillbirth risk is higher for pregnant women with COVID-19


ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — A new study from the CDC reveals pregnant women who tested positive for COVID-19 when admitted to the hospital to give birth were at greater risk for stillbirth compared to those who did not test positive.

Dr. Courtney Olsen-Chen specializes in maternal and fetal medicine at URMC and said COVID-19 infections are more severe in pregnancy, meaning getting vaccinated is a crucial part of staying safe for moms-to-be.

“We have a lot of evidence that COVID-19 is more severe in pregnancy both for the pregnant patient and for the fetus and now with this report, we’re seeing higher rates of hospitalization, of pregnant patients, need to be in the ICU and so for all of those reasons, vaccination is really important,” Olsen-Chen said.

Stillbirth refers to a pregnancy loss after 20 weeks or beyond where the fetal heart rate stops while pregnancy is ongoing.

“It’s really quite alarming. I think the rate was nearly two times higher in those who had COVID and in fact during the delta variant time-period, the rate was even higher, up to four times higher in those who have COVID during pregnancy,” Olsen-Chen said.

The CDC’s study analyzed 1.2 million hospital deliveries between July and September of this year. The study found the rate of stillbirths among pregnant women with the virus increased to 2.7%. The rate of stillbirths among those who were not infected remained at 0.63%.

“I believe right now nationally if you consider all of the pregnant people, and you look at who had the vaccine before they were pregnant, or had the vaccine while they were pregnant, still the numbers are less than 40 percent so less that 40 percent of people who are currently pregnant have had the vaccine some time and that leaves 60 percent really at risk of these severe complications, so we are strongly encouraging vaccination,” Olsen-Chen said.

Dr. Olsen-Chen said the medical community has yet to find any evidence that vaccination is dangerous to a pregnancy. She said whether you haven’t gotten your first dose, or you are thinking about getting your booster dose, the time to do it is now.

“We don’t have any information that the vaccine is harmful, but we know that it can be helpful. Again, we have a tool that we can use to prevent these really serious complications and we just want to be able to use it for patients,” Olsen-Chen said.

She also said there is not enough information just yet on the Omicron COVID variant to fully put it in perspective of this study but says most variants so far have proven to cause a rise in cases, suspecting the new variant will do the same.

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