According to the Mississippi Free Press, the state's rate of fetal death — also called stillbirths — has doubled in the last year among pregnant people who have been infected by COVID-19 and are still unvaccinated.
"We've identified 72 fetal deaths associated with pregnant moms who had COVID, which is twice the background rate of what we would've expected" prior to the pandemic, State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs said during a Mississippi State Department of Health press conference.
A "fetal death," also known as a "stillbirth," refers to deaths that occur after 20 weeks gestation. The statistic does not include miscarriages, which are deaths that occur at 20 weeks or earlier.
[The recent] report of an infant death brings the number of Mississippians younger than 18 who have died of COVID-19 since the pandemic began to seven, four of whom died in the last six weeks.
Mississippi's overall pediatric death toll since the pandemic began in 2020 includes three children between the ages of 11 and 17, one child between 6 and 10 and two between 1 and 5, and the infant less than a year old reported today.
In the month of August 2021, multiple pregnant women died of COVID-19 complications in the same Mississippi hospital. Even before the COVID-19 outbreak, the state had the highest rates of infant mortality and preterm births in the country, as well as one of the highest maternal death rates. According to a recent study from the University of California San Francisco:
Risk of very preterm birth, which occurs at less than 32 weeks of gestation, was 60 percent higher for people infected with COVID-19 at some point in their pregnancy, while the risk of giving birth at less than 37 weeks (all preterm births) was 40 percent higher in those with infection.
Of the 240,157 recorded births [in the state of California between July 2020 and January 2021], nearly 9,000, or 3.7 percent, indicated a COVID-19 diagnosis in pregnancy. The preterm birth rate among birthing people with a COVID-19 diagnosis was 11.8 percent compared with 8.7 percent among those without COVID-19.
My kid was born preterm last year. He's doing great now, but was scary as hell for a while — and until there's some kind of protection like a vaccine, it's still pretty nerve-racking.
Please get vaccinated. Especially if you're pregnant and/or might get pregnant.
In Mississippi, Fetal Deaths Double Among Unvaccinated Pregnant Women With COVID-19 [Ashton Pittman / Mississippi Free Press]
Image: Bonnie U. Gruenberg / Wikimedia Commons (CC-BY-SA 3.0)