COVID-19 did not cause a noticeable increase in fetal deaths in the United States in 2020, new research shows.
A report released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention looked at recent fetal death rates after at least 20 weeks of gestation and shows the fetal death rate has increased by less than 1% – from 5.7 fetal deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019 to 5.74 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2020. Data for 2020 is considered preliminary and based on reports processed by federal health officials as of August 25 of last year.
The small increase detected based on those numbers was not statistically significant, according to the report. And although the study did not examine the COVID-19 status of fetal death cases, the results indicate that the disease did not have a large impact on fetal mortality despite its potential to fuel poor health outcomes. .
The CDC, for example, has warned that pregnant women who contract COVID-19 are at higher risk of stillbirth — considered the loss of a baby at 20 weeks gestation or later — compared to women without COVID-19. 19, and research showed that this risk increased further when the delta coronavirus variant was dominant in 2021. A study published last April in JAMA Pediatrics also found that COVID-19 during pregnancy was associated with a greater risk high in poor maternal outcomes and neonatal complications.
These health risks have prompted officials to urge women who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant to get vaccinated against COVID-19. Yet, according to CDC tracking data as of Jan. 8, only 42 percent of pregnant women in a sample of states had been fully immunized before pregnancy, during pregnancy, or during both phases.
The new study shows that the provisional fetal death rate in 2020 follows an overall decline of 5% in this rate over the previous five years, when it fell from 5.98 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2014 to 5.7 per 1,000 in 2019.
From 2019 to 2020, the rates remained largely unchanged and varied insignificantly from year to year among the racial and ethnic groups included in the study. White women saw a change from 4.71 per 1,000 in 2019 to 4.73 per 1,000 in 2020 after seeing a 4% decline from 2018 to 2019, while the fetal death rate among Hispanic women has increased by about 1%, from 4.79 deaths per 1,000 live births. in 2019 to 4.86 per 1,000 in 2020. This rate had decreased by 5% from 2018 to 2019.
Black women were the only racial and ethnic group where fetal mortality saw any decrease from 2019 to 2020, with the rate dropping less than 1% from 10.41 deaths per 1,000 live births in 2019 to 10.34 per 1,000 in 2020. In comparison, the fetal death rate among black women decreased by a statistically insignificant amount of about 2% from 2018 to 2019.
between states, California was the only one to see a significant increase in its fetal death rate from 2019 to 2020, experiencing a 7% increase from 4.84 deaths per 1,000 live births to 5.20 deaths. North Carolina and Pennsylvania saw their rates decrease by 12% and 14%, respectively.
The overall fetal death rate decreased by 75% from 1942 to 2014, with the study authors noting that many year-to-year fluctuations occurred during this period and the following five years.
“On an annual basis, no change and nonsignificant increases and decreases in fetal death rates are common,” the study said.