Mississippi reports spike in stillbirths among unvaccinated pregnant women with COVID-19

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Missississippi health officials said the state has seen 72 stillbirths among unvaccinated pregnant women who had COVID-19 since the start of the pandemic, The Washington Post reported. 

That's "twice the background rate of what would be expected," Thomas Dobbs, MD, the state's health officer, said during a Sept. 8 news conference. 

The number includes fetal deaths that occurred past 20 weeks of gestation, which classifies as a stillbirth, according to the CDC. 

"That's quite the number of tragedies that, sadly, would be preventable right now," Dr. Dobbs said, referring to the current availability of vaccines, as the death count includes those that occurred before the shots were available.

Mississippi also is investigating the deaths of eight pregnant women who had COVID-19 that occurred during the last four weeks. 

Pregnant women are at increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19 compared to nonpregnant women and are at increased risk for preterm birth, according to the CDC. The agency urged pregnant women to get vaccinated against COVID-19 in August, citing studies that found the shots are not tied to miscarriage. 

"We encourage you to please get vaccinated," said Paul Byers, MD, state epidemiologist in Mississippi. "That's going to be the best way to ensure that you and your babies stay healthy."

 

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