Stillbirths in Germany: on the rise, but no additional increases during the first COVID-19 lockdown
International Journal of Gynecology & Obstetrics, 155:3, 483–489 (2021)
To examine possible changes in the rate of stillbirths in Germany during the first COVID-19 lockdown.
Population-level data of live births and stillbirths occurring between January 1995 and July 2020 were used and negative binomial regression was applied to estimate the rate of stillbirths in this period. The actual rate was compared to the expected figure for 2020.
A steady increase in stillbirths was detected in Germany since 2013. The stillbirth rate for January to July 2020 (4.148) was slightly lower than that of the same period in 2019 (4.242). Furthermore, all monthly rates of stillbirths during the first half of 2020 lie inside the 95% prediction interval of expected stillbirth rates for this period.
A growing body of studies on the indirect effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on stillbirths shows mixed and context-dependent evidence. In contrast to other European countries, stillbirth rates have been on the rise in Germany in the last decade. However, stillbirth rates during the first half of 2020 were not higher than expected. The results suggest that stillbirth rates have not changed during the first-wave COVID-19 lockdown in this high-income setting. However, further studies on the causes of the increasing trend in stillbirths in Germany are needed.
The rate of stillbirths has been increasing in Germany over the last decade but was not higher than expected during the first wave of COVID-19.