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ProPublica: COVID-Related Stillbirths Didn’t Have to Happen

During the first 18 months of the pandemic, the risk of stillbirth nearly doubled for those who had COVID-19 during pregnancy compared with those who didn’t. And during the spread of the delta variant, that risk was four times higher.


In today’s immersive investigation, ProPublica’s Duaa Eldeib reports on the devastating toll COVID-19 had on pregnant people and their babies. A lack of testing data, government guidance and misinformation led many to avoid the COVID-19 vaccine during pregnancy, unwittingly increasing their chances of a stillbirth. Read more: COVID-Related Stillbirths Didn’t Have to Happen — ProPublica


COVID-19 also led to stillbirths among pregnant people who became exceedingly ill after contracting the virus. It damaged their lungs and clotted their blood, putting their babies in such severe distress that they were born before they could take their first breath. Doctors discovered what they are calling SARS-CoV-2 placentitis, a condition in which the virus attacks the placenta and cuts off oxygen to the fetus.


Among other key findings:






While the height of SARS-CoV-2 placentitis came and went with the delta variant, doctors warn, the virus continues to mutate and the risk of stillbirths remains.


“Maybe we’re out of the woods with this, but we just don’t know,” said a pathologist at the Cleveland Clinic. “There’s nothing more tragic than seeing a healthy pregnancy end because of something that’s potentially preventable.”


This is the first story in a series that will examine the stillbirth crisis, which has simmered silently in the U.S., claiming the lives of nearly 23,000 babies every year. Of those 23,000 annual stillbirth deaths, an estimated 25% are believed to be preventable.  Much more in the full story: COVID-Related Stillbirths Didn’t Have to Happen — ProPublica


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Reporter Duaa Eldeib can be reached at


Alissandra Calderon

Associate Director Communications, Local Initiatives



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