Stillbirths may be increasing in Middle Tennessee due to COVID pandemic

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — The Mississippi State Health Department recently reported a doubling of stillbirths during the pandemic and that’s not the only area seeing an increase in fetal deaths. Local obstetricians have also noticed this startling trend here in Middle Tennessee.

Dr. Jennifer Thompson, an Associate Professor of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Vanderbilt, is seeing more unvaccinated women ending up in the ICU, in part due to the proliferation of the Delta variant.

While hard numbers on stillbirths in Tennessee are not yet available, the trend is concerning. “Anecdotally we have seen higher numbers, we, unfortunately, don’t have our specific numbers right now but have noticed, amongst our patients, that are critically ill with covid that stillbirth is an increased risk,” said Dr. Thompson.

In addition to stillbirths, which are fetal deaths that happen at or after the 20th week of pregnancy, preterm labor is also increasing.

“The preterm deliveries that we’re seeing most often associated with COVID, is more often to do with worsening maternal status in terms of an illness that moves us to an earlier delivery to try to improve maternal outcomes,” said Thompson.

Dr. Thompson encourages pregnant women to get vaccinated. Not only does it reduce the chances of ending up in the ICU during pregnancy, but it also offers protection against COVID for the baby as well. “At the end of the day, in order to be a parent, you need to be alive, and you need to be healthy.”

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