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Reproduction

COVID and birth outcomes

Hospitals in several countries saw dips in premature births, which could be a starting point for future research.

NYT, July 19, 2020

This spring, as countries around the world told people to stay home to slow the spread of the coronavirus, doctors in neonatal intensive care units were noticing something strange: Premature births were falling, in some cases drastically.

It started with doctors in Ireland and Denmark. Each team, unaware of the other’s work, crunched the numbers from its own region or country and found that during the lockdowns, premature births — especially the earliest, most dangerous cases — had plummeted. When they shared their findings, they heard similar anecdotal reports from other countries.

They don’t know what caused the drop in premature births, and can only speculate as to the factors in lockdown that might have contributed. But further research might help doctors, scientists and parents-to-be understand the causes of premature birth and ways to prevent it, which have been elusive until now.

By Sallie Han

Professor of Anthropology at SUNY Oneonta
Cultural, linguistic, medical anthropology; reproduction; gender; kinship; ethnography; United States. Former journalist (The Daily News, New York).

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