MONDAY, Nov. 22, 2021 (HealthDay News) -- The Delta variant is proving to be dangerous for pregnant women, raising the odds of both stillbirth and death, new government reports reveal.
In one study, researchers analyzed Mississippi State Department of Health data and discovered that among women with COVID-19, the death rate was three times higher among pregnant women than non-pregnant women of reproductive age, and the death rate among pregnant women increased five-fold once the Delta variant became prevalent.
Black pregnant women with COVID had a three times higher risk of death than pregnant Hispanic or white women.
None of the 15 pregnant women with COVID-19 who died during the study period -- March 2020 through Oct. 6, 2021 -- were fully vaccinated, according to the study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
A second CDC report found that the increased risk of stillbirth among pregnant women with COVID-19 skyrocketed from 47% before the Delta variant was widely circulating to 304% after the variant became widespread.
And another CDC study that has yet to be peer-reviewed found that pregnant women who had COVID-19 when the Delta variant was prevalent had a more than three times higher risk of ICU admission than non-pregnant women of reproductive age.
Unfortunately, CDC data show that only 35.3% of pregnant women in the United States have been fully vaccinated before or during pregnancy, which is half the rate of the overall adult population. The rate is even lower among pregnant Black and Hispanic women, CBS News reported.
The CDC is "deeply concerned" about the low vaccination rate among women of color, Dr. Dana Meaney-Delman, who leads the agency's maternal immunization team for COVID-19 Response, said in an earlier statement, CBS News reported.
The findings from these studies could help convince more women to get vaccinated, according to Torri Metz, associate professor and vice chair of research of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Utah.
"I think that these data that say we have an increased risk of stillbirth really hammers home that it's not just the mother who's at risk of COVID, it's also the fetus and pushing that messaging out may really help people decide to go ahead and vaccinate," she told CBS News.
Visit the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for more on COVID-19 and pregnancy.