A global review of studies has shown that the COVID19 pandemic has notably affected pregnant women and their babies negatively across the world. A collective data from 40 studies that have been extracted from 17 countries have shown that the rate of stillbirths and maternal death has increased by a third. The findings of the review have been released in the journal the Lancet. Experts have said that from January 2020 to January 2021, the incidents of ectopic pregnancy as well have increased by nearly sixfold. Ectopic pregnancy happens when the fertilized eggs develop outside a woman’s uterus. Health experts have warned that untreated ectopic pregnancy can lead to life-threatening blood loss. Scientists from St. George’s University of London have noted that many of these health issues might have occurred due to lack of access to care amid the pandemic. The COVID19 pandemic has exhausted the health systems in many countries. Hospitals have been overstrained while providing care to COVID19 patients. Some pregnant women might have been reluctant to visit their health care providers due to fear of contracting the virus. Experts have evaluated six of the 10 studies and found that the number of women reporting symptoms of depression as well has shot up during the pandemic. As per the findings of the review, the rate of maternal anxiety as well has increased amid the COVID19 crisis.
The analysis of these studies has found that the rate of pre-term delivery has not changed much, though the reason is unclear. Collective data from rich countries have shown that there has been a 10 percent drop in the rate of pre-term births. It has remained the same in poor and middle-income nations as well. Dr. Erkan Kalafat from Koc University in Turkey, who is also the co-author of the report, has said that the findings of the review might help scientists understand the cause of pre-term births that is often unclear. He has said that health officials should take lessons from the COVID19 pandemic and plan for a broad and fair future of maternal care across the world. Experts have said that the review has found no change in the number of women who have been dealing with usual pregnancy-related issues such as hypertension or gestational diabetes. The pandemic has not made any difference in the number of cesarean sections performed or in the rate of deliveries that have needed doctors to induce labor pain. However, the COVID19 crisis has affected pregnant women and their infants badly who are living in low or middle-income nations. The lead author of the study, Dr. Asma Khalil has said that the analysis of these studies has shown that disruptions that have been caused by the deadly disease have resulted in preventable deaths of both mothers and their infants, specifically in poor and middle-income nations. Dr. Asma Khalil is a professor of obstetrics at St. George’s University of London. She has said that health officials should plan for equitable, safe, and accessible maternal care keeping the pandemic and its aftermath in mind to ease negative pregnancy effects.
Dr. Denise Jamieson who has not been involved in the study has said that the results of the review are alarming. He is a member of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists’ COVID OB Expert Work Group. Dr. Jamieson has said that the findings show that the negative effects of the pandemic are much beyond the effects of disease infection. The COVID19 has far fetched negative impact on maternal care and the overall health of infants that might last even after the pandemic ends, said the expert. Dr. Denise Jamieson has said that health experts have seen the same kind of negative impact on maternal care and the health of infants in nations that have been hit by the Ebola pandemic in 2013. He has said that the trend has been seen before as well. When a contagious virus exhausts a large portion of health care resources and affects a large population, maternal and infant care suffers unduly.