Experts reveal there’s been a rise in stillbirths during the coronavirus pandemic

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  • A national safety review has been sparked following a rise in stillbirths during the coronavirus pandemic.

    Health investigators have launched a review into the rise in stillbirths in the UK’s first coronavirus lockdown.

    Between April and June 2020, 40 stillbirths took place compared to 24 in the same period last year.

    An investigation into the increased amounts of mothers suffering baby loss has been sparked and The Healthcare Safety Investigation Branch is set to release the report next year.

    Experts believe that the doubling of stillbirths is likely to be a result of women delaying reaching out for medical care throughout their pregnancies during the first few months of the Covid-19 lockdown.

    Investigators told Health Service Journal that a “thematic review” has been launched into stillbirths across England during this period.

    The findings have triggered a call for maternity care staff not to be distributed to other parts of the NHS in the fight against the second wave of the coronavirus.

    stillbirth

    Credit: Alamy

    Sandy Lewis, associate director of maternity investigations at HSIB, told the HSJ, “What we noticed during the initial Covid period was that we had seen approximately twice the number of intrapartum stillbirths compared to the same time last year.

    “All those investigations are in progress and are being completed. We need to look at them in their entirety to understand some of the themes.”

    Meanwhile, Dr Louise Page, HSIB’s clinical director added, “One of the big concerns across the healthcare system is about whether there had been unintended consequences of some of the changes that took place in March and April, especially with regards to the lockdown in health seeking behaviours.

    “We’re now looking at whether women were seeking healthcare in different ways during that time, the impact of lockdown, the impact of [early in the pandemic] the uncertainty over whether pregnant women were going to be more at risk in the same way that we know that they were in the H1N1 flu.”

    The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists has explained that they are still waiting for comparable data on stillbirths from before the coronavirus pandemic took hold to be published.

    Dr Edward Morris, said, “We are concerned by reports that the HSIB are investigating a possible rise in stillbirth deaths during the pandemic.

    “At the moment, there isn’t any national data available to show the comparison before and after the pandemic hit – something we are keen for the Office of National Statistics to release.

    “Antenatal care is essential and we encourage all women to attend appointments. We have consistently advised women who have concerns or worries about their or their baby’s health – including the baby’s movements – should seek medical advice from their midwife or hospital immediately.”