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19th Jan 2022

Five stillbirths linked to Delta variant for unvaccinated mothers

Ellen Fitzpatrick

New guidance has been released.

Five mothers have experienced stillbirths along with two others experiencing newborn deaths that have been linked to the Delta Covid variant on unvaccinated mothers in Ireland.

The new research was carried out by the Cork University Maternity Hospital (CUMH) and relates directly to stillbirths and newborn deaths in Ireland last year.

According to the Irish Examiner, new guidance from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists says that while there is no data yet in regards to the impact of the Omicron variant on pregnant women, the outcome of the Delta has been proven.

It is advised for pregnant women to get vaccinated as it protects against damage to the placenta caused by the virus and they are also recommended to pay attention to foetal movements if they contract the virus.

Professor Keelin O’Donoghue, who led the research team based at CUMH said: “It’s important to say this is an uncommon but real complication of Covid-19 in pregnancy.

“So far, across ours and international cases, affected pregnancies were unvaccinated, which makes a strong argument for vaccination in pregnancy.

“We hope by giving clear information and through closer monitoring of Covid-19-affected pregnancies, we may avoid future deaths.”

The guidance from the Institute of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists is set to be published by the HSE, and says that the same outcome is expected when it comes to the Omicron variant.

This guidance recommends that women with the virus should be assessed with CTG monitors not just ultrasound scans in later pregnancy.

Pregnancies in women who contract the virus and are not vaccinated are found to suffer risks even if the infection is only mild.

The risk of foetal death was found to vary from 0.5 per cent to 2 per cent, with research indicating that stillbirths appear to happen within seven to 21 days of infection.

“Since July 2021, the Netherlands has reported 13 stillbirths which are directly attributed to the placenta being damaged by the coronavirus,” the guidance says.

“The researchers describe placental necrosis and inflammation akin to the placentitis described in the Irish and US cases. None of the mothers who had these stillbirths was vaccinated.”