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U.S. childbirth problems no worse during pandemic

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Problematic childbirths did not increase in the United States during the pandemic, researchers found in a study of nearly 838,500 women, including more than 225,000 who gave birth during the pandemic.

There were no differences in rates of preterm birth, blood pressure problems in the mother, stillbirth, low birth weight, placenta problems, Cesarean deliveries, or uncontrolled bleeding after delivery, when comparing the March through December 2020 period to the pre-pandemic years of 2017 to 2019, the research team reported in Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Roughly half of the women had been tested for the coronavirus while pregnant, and about 7% of them had tested positive. There were no differences in childbirth outcomes between these groups.

The authors were not able to distinguish between asymptomatic and symptomatic coronavirus infections, or severity of disease, which could have varying effects on pregnancy outcomes, or whether infection earlier or later in pregnancy made a difference. They only looked at labor and delivery outcomes, not at problems that might have occurred earlier in pregnancy.