Declaration of emergency state due to COVID-19 spread in Japan reduced maternal transports without reduction in preterm delivery

Int J Gynaecol Obstet. 2023 Mar 18. doi: 10.1002/ijgo.14746. Online ahead of print.


Introduction: To clarify whether the declaration of an emergency state due to the spread of COVID-19 in Japan affected the number of maternal transports and premature births.

Methods: A questionnaire-based descriptive study was conducted in perinatal centers throughout Japan in 2020. The incidence of maternal transport and preterm delivery rates every month after the COVID-19 spread in 2020 were compared with those in 2019.

Results: Participants were recruited from 52 perinatal centres. The maternal transport rate (maternal transports per number of deliveries) was 10.6% in April and 11.0% in June 2020, compared with 12.5% in 2019 (P < 0.05). The maternal transport rate due to preterm labor was 4.8% in April 2020 and 5.8% in 2019 (P < 0.05). The maternal transport rate during the declaration of emergency state decreased by 21% in April 2020 in non-emergency-declared prefectures, and decreased by 17% in May 2020 in emergency-declared prefectures. However, there was no significant difference in the preterm delivery rate between 2020 and 2019, regardless of the prefecture and gestational period.

Conclusion: Declaration of the emergency status due to COVID-19 spread in Japan reduced maternal transport due to preterm labor, but did not reduce preterm delivery itself.

Keywords: COVID-19; delivery; maternal transport; maternity service; preterm labor.