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6 Pregnant Women, 10 Fetuses Have Died From COVID During Louisiana's Fourth Surge

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Patrick Madden
Ochsner Baptist Medical Center. March 25, 2020.

Six pregnant women and 10 fetuses have died of COVID-19 since mid-July, the Louisiana Department of Health reported Tuesday.

The “alarming increase” in deaths are the result of 14 cases of severe pregnancy outcomes during the fourth wave of COVID-19, the health department said.

All 14 cases involved unvaccinated mothers. The figures suggest that in two cases, both a pregnant woman and her fetus died, and in the others, either the mother or fetus survived, but health officials did not clarify that in a Tuesday press release.

“It’s a tragic reminder of the vulnerability of pregnant individuals and their children to this highly contagious illness,” said state health officer Dr. Joseph Kanter.

More severe cases of COVID-19 have been reported in pregnant people since the start of the fourth surge, fueled mainly by the highly transmissible delta variant and Louisiana’s high number of unvaccinated people, than over the course of the previous 15 months of the pandemic, Kanter said.

“Babies rely upon us and their parents for protection. We must do everything we can, including getting the COVID vaccine, to ensure safe and healthy birth outcomes,” he added.

The deaths in Louisiana are part of a startling trend in severe cases of COVID-19 and deaths among pregnant people. In September, Mississippi health officials reported that fetal deaths have doubled in the state due to COVID-19 and that eight pregnant people had died of COVID-19 in the state in four weeks. Nationally, pregnant people are at a higher risk of severe illness and preterm birth, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC, the Society of Maternal and Fetal Medicine and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend vaccinations for pregnant women.

Rosemary Westwood is the public and reproductive health reporter for WWNO/WRKF. She was previously a freelance writer specializing in gender and reproductive rights, a radio producer, columnist, magazine writer and podcast host.

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