COVID-19 Infection During Pregnancy: A Closer Look at the Risk of Stillbirth

By Danélia Botes

November 6, 2023

A Groundbreaking Study

A recent Nordic research study has shed light on the potential increased risk of stillbirth among pregnant women infected with COVID-19. This comprehensive study, the largest of its kind, analysed data from 389,949 births across Norway, Sweden and Denmark. The findings revealed a 2.4 times higher risk of stillbirth among women who contracted COVID-19 during pregnancy.

Understanding the Risks

While stillbirth remains a rare occurrence, the study found that the absolute risk was 2.3 per 100,000 follow-up days for pregnant women without COVID-19. In contrast, the risk was 5.8 per 100,000 follow-up days for those who contracted the virus during pregnancy. Notably, the risk of stillbirth was highest within the first two weeks of infection.

COVID-19 and Pregnancy Risk

The study also discovered that the risk of stillbirth varied based on the COVID-19 variant that the pregnant woman tested positive for. The risk was highest during the period when the Delta variant was dominant. However, due to changes in COVID-19 testing recommendations, the risk associated with current variants remains unknown.

In light of these findings, the Norwegian Institute of Public Health recommends pregnant women get vaccinated against COVID-19 during their second or third trimester. This recommendation is based on research showing a certain increased risk of serious illness or complications among pregnant women infected by COVID-19, with no connected risk for the mother, child, or pregnancy among those vaccinated.

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