Pregnancy outcomes for mothers and babies have worsened during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a review of data from 40 studies representing 17 countries published in The Lancet Global Health.
Findings varied by country but analysis of pooled data showed stillbirth and maternal mortality rates increased by approximately one-third during the pandemic compared to life before Covid-19 took hold.
Of the 40 studies, 12 reported on the incidence of stillbirth. Analysis of the pooled data found the chances of a stillbirth increased by more than a quarter compared with pre-pandemic instances.
The review included two studies on the impact of the pandemic on maternal death rates (one from India and one from Mexico). The risk of mothers dying during pregnancy or childbirth was increased by more than a third compared with before the pandemic. The Mexico study represented the majority of these pregnancies.
Dr Jogender Kumar, Assistant Professor (neonatology), PGIMER Chandigarh, who was not involved in the study, told that rates of the adverse outcomes were much higher in low- and middle-income countries. “In resource-poor countries, even under normal circumstances, it is a challenge to provide adequate coverage for antenatal check-ups, obstetric emergencies, universal institutional deliveries, and respectful maternity care. The Covid-19 pandemic has widened this gap…,” he said.
The current case fatality rate for Covid 19 in India is 1.3%, most of which are of the older age group.
Covid-related direct death rate among pregnant women is like the general population.
However, due to delay in seeking care, there are pregnancy related complications and therefore Covid-attributed death rate has increased. The unfortunate part is the unborn deaths (stillbirths) at the community level are not counted. There is an established reporting system for stillbirths at hospitals but not at the community level.
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