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Increase of stillbirth and decrease of late preterm infants during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown
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  • Published on:
    Increase of stillbirth and decrease of late preterm infants during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown

    Ravaldi et al. in their letter raise two points of dispute. The first is linked to epidemiological data and the other to the fact that, according to them, a reduction in gynecological checks during pregnancy did not occur in the lockdown of spring 2020. I appreciate their engagement with the article but I disagree.

    On the first point (epidemiological data), the difference between the data presented by Ravaldi and those indicated by us is linked to the fact that they mistakenly refer to older years. Ravaldi’s 2019 stillbirth is taken from the Italian Statistical Yearbook 2019, which refers to the entire 2016. Our data, obtained from the CEDAP (hospital discharge database, which records perinatal information on all newborns), are instead those of Mar-May 2019 and Mar-May 2020 (3 months of lockdown).
    Furthermore, Ravaldi’s stillbirth data starting from 22 weeks were taken from the ISTAT Reproductive Health document published in 2018, which refers to 2015 data. The authors therefore cannot contest the difference in the results because they are using different data sources. A further analysis (to be published) on larger samples on all births in Lazio confirmed a significant difference between stillbirths in the period March-May 2020 compared to the same months in the years 2017-2019 (3.23 vs 1.83 per thousand, p value = 0.014) . The increase in stillbirths in the first half of 2020 was observed in numerous developed and developing countries as well as in Italy (1-...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    First wave SARS-CoV-2 pandemic did not affect stillbirth prevalence.
    • Fabio Facchinetti, Obstetric and Gynecology Mother-Infant Department, University of Modena and Reggio Emilia, Modena, Italy
    • Other Contributors:
      • Enrica Perrone, epidemiologist
      • Valeria Donno, Resident in Obstetrics and Gynecology
      • Giovanni Grandi, Obstetrics and Gynecologist

    De Curtis et al reported some changes occurring in perinatal outcomes during lockdown in Lazio region, Italy. In particular, according to their data, preterm deliveries were reduced while stillbirth (SB) rate seems to be three-fold increased respect with the same period of 2019 (1).
    We collected the same outcomes in Emilia-Romagna (ER), a northern Italian region with 4.47 million residents. Gestational age at delivery has been obtained by Birth Certificates (CedAP) while SB occurrence was collected from the Surveillance system of SB. This system is active since 2014. It records and audits, in a multidisciplinary way, each single case reported by every birth center of the Region. SB was defined according to WHO as published elsewhere together with other details of the Audit process (2).
    In Emilia-Romagna, in the quarter March to May 2020, the one of the national lockdown, there were 22 SB (≥22+0 weeks) out of 6800 singletons births, for a rate of 3.24/1000. For the same quarter, in the previous 6 years, SB rate ranged from 2.86 (22/7687) in 2016 to 4.32 (31/7170) in 2019. According to one-way analysis of variance for 2014-2020 years, SB rate not changed significantly (p value >0.05 for each years of observation).
    It has to be highlighted that a small number of events allow to a great variations in the rates, in a phenomenon such as SB that has a very low prevalence. For this reason, a comparison of only two points as previously done (1) could lead artif...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.
  • Published on:
    Stillbirth rates should be carefully assessed, and women should not be blamed for adverse perinatal outcomes
    • Claudia Ravaldi, Psychiatrist CiaoLapo Foundation for Perinatal Health and Stillbirth support, Prato, Italy
    • Other Contributors:
      • Alfredo Vannacci, Professor of Pharmacoepidemiology

    Stillbirths are tragic events with devastating consequences on women and couples: all efforts to better understand, manage and prevent their occurrence are welcome. Nevertheless, we have some concerns on what reported by De Curtis et al, who suggested an increase of stillbirth rate during the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown in Lazio, Italy.
    1. First, we do not believe that a crude comparison with the corresponding months of 2019 is a proper control. Stillbirths are rare events, with a variable incidence during the year and alternating phases of low incidence and clusters of cases. The assumption that in the period Mar-May 2020 their number in the Lazio region should have been the same as of Mar-May 2019 is unsubstantiated. Consistently, the incidence reported by the authors in Lazio for 2020 (3.23 ‰) is almost the same of what reported for the same region in 2019 yearly statistics (3.00 ‰) [1] in which stillbirth is defined as a loss after 180 days (25 wks + 5 days). Furthermore, when using the 22 wks definition, reported stillbirth rate for Italy is significantly higher (4.70 ‰) [2].
    2. Second, the authors suggest that the supposed increase could be due to reduced visits to hospitals due to the fear of contracting COVID-19. Unfortunately, this claim (that indeed blames women for the loss of their unborn child) is not at all supported by facts, as it wasn’t in the manuscript that the authors cite as a reference. Data from a sample of 2448 women who were pregnant or...

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    Conflict of Interest:
    None declared.