Throughout the pandemic, there have been several questions about how COVID and the vaccine may affect pregnant women. Now there is a new cause of concern for expectant mothers. The Delta variant causes an increased risk of stillbirths, according to the CDC.
Two new studies show that pregnant women who contract the Delta variant are at an increased risk of stillbirths or dying at birth, which is increasingly concerning because doctors across the nation have seen an unprecedented rise in pregnant women that are critically ill with COVID-19.
“We are seeing loads of pregnancy complications from COVID-19 infection,” Dr. Ellie Ragsdale, director of fetal intervention at UH Cleveland Medical Center says.
Among the complications are premature deliveries, unusually high blood pressure in the expecting mothers, and stillbirths.
Stillbirths on the rise
After analyzing the outcomes of over one million pregnancies between March 2020 to September 2021, one study found that stillbirth rates were lower before the pandemic, however, the percentage did slightly jump for expectant mothers that didn’t contract COVID.
The percentage jumped from 0.59% to 0.64% among women who never contracted COVID, the study notes. Meanwhile, the rates rose to 0.98% among expectant mothers who contracted COVID, according to the CDC. The rates for expectant mothers with COVID rose to an alarming 2.7% once the Delta variant emerged.
“Although stillbirth was a rare outcome overall,” the study authors wrote, documented COVID diagnosis was associated with a marked increase in the risk for stillbirth, “with a stronger association during the period of Delta variant predominance.”
Obstetricians also pointed out notable differences in how much oxygen fetuses are able to absorb if an expectant mother is