Incidence and characteristics of stillbirths before and during the Coronavirus 2019 pandemic

Document Type

Article (peer-reviewed)

Publication Date



Objective: The aim of this study was to determine the incidence and characteristics of stillbirths during the initial wave of the Coronavirus 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and whether or not this differed from the incidence and characteristics of stillbirths that occurred in the pre-pandemic period. Study design: This was a single-center retrospective cohort study of pregnant individuals who delivered stillbirths during two different time periods: March–September in 2017, 2018, and 2019 (pre-COVID-19 pandemic period) and March–September 2020 (COVID-19 pandemic period). Results: No difference in the rate of stillbirths was found between the two time periods. The women who experienced a stillbirth during the pre-pandemic period attended on average more prenatal visits than women who experienced a stillbirth during the pandemic period (p < .05). During the pandemic period, a higher proportion of stillbirths were suspected to be due to poorly controlled hypertension (p =.04). Conclusions: The incidence of stillbirth during the pandemic period was similar to that during the pre-pandemic period; however, there were more stillbirths that occurred due to poorly controlled hypertension, a potentially preventable cause of stillbirth, during the pandemic period when compared to those of the pre-pandemic period. While the impact of the disease process of COVID-19 on stillbirth remains uncertain, the change in the provision of prenatal care during the pandemic period may have had unintended consequences with respect to the prevention and management of hypertension and the risk of potentially preventable stillbirths.