In 2021, 3,420 children were stillborn in this country – a significant increase compared to the year before. What’s behind it?
The comedian Michael Mittermeier recently shared traumatic experiences from his life on the “NDR Talk Show”: “My wife and I had four stillbirths,” reported the 57-year-old today. Here you can read more about it.
What happened to Mittermeier and his wife Gudrun happens to thousands of parents every year. And the number of cases is increasing.
Figures from the Federal Statistical Office show that 3,420 children were born dead in Germany in 2021 – an increase of 7.5 percent compared to 2019 (3,180). This means that there were 4.3 stillbirths for every 1,000 births. In 2022, this number rose again to 4.4.
Stillbirth weighs at least 500 grams
A child is considered stillborn if it weighs at least 500 grams at birth or has reached the 24th week of pregnancy. This regulation has been in effect since November 2018, before there were other definitions of the so-called star children. For example, it was not until 2018 that the length of pregnancy was included as a criterion for what counts as a stillbirth. This changed the distinction between stillbirths and miscarriages.
The experts are puzzled about the reasons for the increase in cases. The increasing age of the mothers seems to be a plausible reason. But this explanation does not seem to go far enough. In an interview with the news service epd, the President of the German Society for Psychosomatic Gynecology, Wolf Lütje, names other possible causes.
Corona also plays a role here
One reason could be the increasing number of artificial inseminations, the former chief physician of the women’s clinic at the Evangelical Amalie Sieveking Hospital in Hamburg is quoted as saying. In addition, there were more Caesarean sections during the Corona crisis, which began in Germany in March 2020. According to the gynecologist, these increase the risk of stillbirth.
Lütje also refers to the Cronos registry study on Covid-19 during pregnancy published by the German Society for Perinatal Medicine in 2022: According to this, the rate of stillbirths in women who were infected with the coronavirus was increased.
Other scientists also point out the connection between the corona pandemic and an increase in stillbirths and call for a review of the connections.
Corona vaccination reason for declining birth rates?
One connection repeatedly causes a stir in vaccination skeptic circles and seems to confirm the widespread rejection of vaccination there. According to Lütje, there was a significant drop in births at the beginning of 2022 – almost exactly nine months after the start of the corona vaccination campaign. According to the epd, the Federal Institute for Population Research is also talking about a “slump” in the birth rate.
But the institute has a different explanation than the anti-corona vaccinations. The institute explains that women initially postponed their desire to have children when the vaccination campaign started in spring 2021. Research director Martin Bujard finds it “plausible that some women wanted to be vaccinated before they became pregnant”.