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(Australian Associated Press)
The forced break from the stresses of daily life prompted by virus lockdowns could have a silver lining for expectant mothers, a new study shows.
Hospital admissions for preterm caesarean and induced births halved at Brisbane’s Mater Mothers’ Hospital between March and April 2020, compared to the previous seven years.
Patients are usually admitted for a planned early caesarean or induced birth to ensure the safety of the mother and baby if a medical issue arises.
Lead investigator Sailesh Kumar said the low numbers could be driven by behaviours associated with self-isolation.
“More time at home may have led to reduced work and social-related stress, improved sleep quality and diet, which in turn perhaps led to an overall improvement of pregnancy outcomes,” Professor Kumar said.
“Importantly our study also showed that the number of stillbirths or newborns needing emergency care did not increase during this period.”
About 26,000 preterm births are recorded in Australia each year, with an estimated 15,000 admitted as planned caesarean or induction births, according to Australian Institute of Health and Welfare statistics.
The study is a valuable insight into factors affecting maternal health, according to lead author Linda Gallo from the University of Brisbane.
“The study was only possible because we had access to data from the Mater Mothers’ Hospital during the same time period over eight years,” she said.
“We are now expanding this study by working with our interstate and international colleagues to examine how lockdowns in different states and countries have influenced preterm births.”
The expanded study is aiming to gather data from a broader cross-section of mothers to better understand the triggers for preterm birth.