Study: Stillbirths, maternal mortality, depression increased during pandemic

Published: Apr. 2, 2021 at 11:07 PM EDT
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - The coronavirus pandemic has had a damaging effect on pregnancies worldwide, according to a new study by Lancet Global Health.

According to the Mayo Clinic, pregnancy does not lead to an increased risk of COVID-19, but if a pregnant woman gets COVID, its effects can be much worse. It can cause an increased risk of ICU, increased use of needing a ventilator and an increased risk of mortality.

The new Lancet study shows how often the complications are happening around the world. British researchers reviewed 40 published studies across 17 countries, which included more than six million pregnancies. They found rates of stillbirth and maternal death increased by nearly a third during the pandemic.

It also reported that the pandemic has caused an increase in postpartum depression, anxiety, or both.

Overall, researchers found the outcomes were worse in low to middle income countries.

Although Dr. Edward Miller, the head of maternal and fetal medicine at UofL Health said the review is significant, he believes it’s not completely representative of pregnancies in the United States.

“While we haven’t seen an increased number of deaths either maternal or neonatal that we have attributed to COVID, we definitely have seen a worsening of complications such as preeclampsia because oftentimes they’re arriving to us later,” Miller told WAVE 3 News. “They’re not able to get into the same amount of prenatal visits, whatever those barriers may be, and there’s a significant increase in the amount of postpartum depression that we’re seeing as well.”

Miller said anxiety and depression is universal, but access to healthcare is not. Some populations or countries have better or worse healthcare resources, which could impact the mother or infant’s outcome.

Waiting to ask for help, Miller said, could lead to serious complications.

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