The researchers evaluated 40 studies involving more than 6 million pregnancies in 17 countries, including Brazil. The results varied by country, but one of the conclusions of the study is that the number of fetal deaths has increased by 28%, while the risk of women dying during pregnancy or childbirth has risen by more than a third in countries like Mexico and India.
Analysis of the pooled data showed that rates of stillbirth and maternal mortality increased by approximately one third during the pandemic compared to the pre-Covid period. The number of women who needed surgery for ectopic pregnancy (when the fertilized egg is implanted outside the uterus) increased almost six times during the pandemic in all studies.
Scientists also found evidence that interruptions in care and patients’ fear of becoming infected in clinics and health services increased the number of preventable deaths for mothers and fetuses, especially in low-income countries.
Mental health indicators also worsened during the pandemic. Of the 10 studies included in the analysis on maternal mental health, six reported an increase in postpartum depression, maternal anxiety or both. The data were published in the scientific journal The Lancet Global Health.
For the authors of the analysis, the increase in adverse results may be related mainly to the inefficiency of health systems and their inability to deal with the pandemic, further aggravating the situation.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on health systems around the world. Disruption of services, blockages across the country and fear of going to care facilities mean that the adverse effects of Covid-19 are expected to have health consequences that go beyond the deaths and illnesses caused by the virus itself, ”wrote Asma Khalil , main author of the study.
For Thomaz Gollop, collaborating professor of gynecology at the Faculty of Medicine of Jundiaí, the increase in cases of ectopic pregnancy is possibly related to the inflammatory process caused by the coronavirus, which hinders the passage of the fertilized egg. “If not diagnosed, with the evolution of the pregnancy, the rupture of the tube and a serious hemorrhage can occur”, warns the doctor.
The study highlights the lack of information specifically aimed at women of childbearing age and pregnant women, about the risks, care and repercussions of a possible infection by the coronavirus during pregnancy, according to Gollop.
“Alerting pregnant women to the importance of performing prenatal examinations, even during the pandemic, following medical guidelines and seeking care in case of doubts or any complications could have prevented the increase in these numbers, which are already very high in Brazil ”, Points out the specialist.
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