During the second wave of COVID-19, the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) has published a study that miscarriages have tripled, and the cause of concern could be the dreaded Delta variant. The study terms the foetal deaths as 'spontaneous abortions', which means ending the pregnancy before 20 weeks, or before the foetus weighs 500 grams. The study was published in the 'Ultrasound in Obstetrics & Gynaecology', which is the official journal of the International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.
Miscarriages During Second Wave Recorded at 82.6%
The researchers looked at 1,630 Covid positive women who underwent or suffered from spontaneous abortions at the B.Y.L. Nair Charitable Hospital in Mumbai from 1 April 2020 to 4 July 2021. The Print quoted the study and mentioned that the rate of miscarriages during the second wave went as high as 82.6 per cent, compared to 26.7 per cent in the first wave. Interestingly, before the pandemic, the rate of abortions was higher in the months beginning February to July compared to August to January in 2017 and 2018.
The researchers have pointed towards the highly infectious Delta variant as a cause of the steep rise. The variant can infect the placenta and could eventually affect fetal growth in the expecting mother's womb. Moreover, due to extensive lockdowns in several states, women's access to adequate healthcare and proper nutrition was lesser than usual. Such factors could not be ignored while looking at the rise in miscarriages amongst pregnant women.
Detrimental Effect on Pregnant Women
The team could neither carry out COVID tests among the foetus nor conduct genome sequencing to establish the passing down of the infection from the mother to the baby. The study emphasizes that the women who conceive during the pandemic need to be counselled about the risks involved, especially those who contract the virus during their first trimester. Previous studies have proved that COVID-19 had detrimental effects on expecting mothers, particularly in middle and low-income countries.