A recent study in the journal Pediatrics has revealed that fewer prenatal visits to the doctor in the first month of the Covid-19 pandemic, have resulted in fewer induced and caesarian (C-section) deliveries, thus raising the question of whether or not the pre-pandemic level of doctor visits for prenatal care is always necessary.
The researchers responsible for this study examined the records of U.S. births from 2010 to 2020. They also used data from the National Center for Health Statistics to forecast expected premature births from March to December 2020 and then compared the predictions to the actual numbers.
They found that the stay-at-home order across the nation reduced prenatal care by more than a third. In March 2020, the first month of the Covid-19 pandemic, the number of preterm births from induced or C-section deliveries fell 6.5% and stayed low from there on out, most likely because of fewer prenatal visits to help prevent the spread of the virus.
Prior to the pandemic, preterm induced and C-sections deliveries had been on the rise. Spontaneous preterm births declined by a small percentage in the first month of the pandemic. Nearly half of all preterm induced and C-section deliveries are due to a ruptured membrane, which is a spontaneous cause. But full-term induced and C-section deliveries had increased.
The information above is interesting because the reasons for preterm deliveries are not always known. On average, preterm births are higher in February than in March. And, most of the time, doctors interventions that result in preterm delivery are carried out for a good reason.
This is the first study to examine preterm birth data during the Covid-19 pandemic significantly. It raises questions about doctor intervention during pregnancy and unnecessary preterm deliveries. But more detailed information is needed to get a clearer picture of the reasons for preterm deliveries and whether or not the level of prenatal intervention prior to the pandemic is as necessary as once believed.