Effects of the COVID-19 early pandemic on delivery outcomes among women with and without COVID-19 at birth

Birth. 2023 Dec;50(4):996-1008. doi: 10.1111/birt.12753. Epub 2023 Aug 2.


Background: The COVID-19 pandemic may influence delivery outcomes through direct effects of infection or indirect effects of disruptions in prenatal care. We examined early pandemic-related changes in birth outcomes for pregnant women with and without a COVID-19 diagnosis at delivery.

Methods: We compared four delivery outcomes-preterm delivery (PTD), severe maternal morbidity (SMM), stillbirth, and cesarean birth-between 2017 and 2019 (prepandemic) and between April and December 2020 (early-pandemic) using interrupted time series models on 11.8 million deliveries, stratified by COVID-19 infection status at birth with entropy weighting for historical controls, from the Healthcare Cost and Utilization Project across 43 states and the District of Columbia.

Results: Relative to 2017-2019, women without COVID-19 at delivery in 2020 had lower odds of PTD (OR = 0.93; 95% CI = 0.92-0.94) and SMM (OR = 0.88; 95% CI = 0.85-0.91) but increased odds of stillbirth (OR = 1.04; 95% CI = 1.01-1.08). Absolute effects were small across race/ethnicity groups. Deliveries with COVID-19 had an excess of each outcome, by factors of 1.07-1.46 for outcomes except SMM at 4.21. The effect for SMM was more pronounced for Asian/Pacific Islander non-Hispanic (API; OR = 10.51; 95% CI = 5.49-20.14) and Hispanic (OR = 5.09; 95% CI = 4.29-6.03) pregnant women than for White non-Hispanic (OR = 3.28; 95% CI = 2.65-4.06) women.

Discussion: Decreasing rates of PTD and SMM and increasing rates of stillbirth among deliveries without COVID-19 were small but suggest indirect effects of the pandemic on maternal outcomes. Among pregnant women with COVID-19 at delivery, adverse effects, particularly SMM for API and Hispanic women, underscore the importance of addressing health disparities.

Keywords: COVID-19; cesarean birth; preterm delivery; severe maternal morbidity; stillbirth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19 Testing
  • COVID-19*
  • Ethnicity
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pandemics
  • Pregnancy
  • Premature Birth* / epidemiology
  • Stillbirth / epidemiology