State-specific fertility rate changes across the USA following the first two waves of COVID-19
STUDY QUESTION:How did the first two coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) waves affect fertility rates in the USA? SUMMARY ANSWER:States differed widely in how their fertility rates changed following the COVID-19 outbreak and these changes were influenced more by state-level economic, racial, political, and social factors than by COVID-19 wave severity. WHAT IS KNOWN ALREADY:The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic contributed to already declining fertility rates in the USA, but not equally across states. Identifying drivers of differential changes in fertility rates can help explain variations in demographic shifts across states in the USA and motivate policies that support families in general, not only during crises. STUDY DESIGN, SIZE, DURATION:This is an ecological study using state-level data from 50 US states and the District of Columbia (n = 51). The study period extends from 2020 to 2021 with historical data from 2016 to 2019. We identified Wave 1 as the first apex for each state after February 2020 and Wave 2 as the second apex, during Fall/Winter 2020-2021. PARTICIPANTS/MATERIALS, SETTING, METHODS:State-level COVID-19 wave severity, defined as case acceleration during each 3-month COVID-19 wave (cases/100 000 population/month), was derived from 7-day weekly moving average COVID-19 case rates from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). State-level fertility rate changes (change in average monthly fertility rate/100 000 women of reproductive age (WRA)/year) were derived from the CDC Bureau of Vital Statistics and from 2020 US Census and University of Virginia 2021 population estimates 9 months after each COVID-19 wave. We performed univariate analyses to describe national and state-level fertility rate changes following each wave, and simple and multivariable linear regression analyses to assess the relation of COVID-19 wave severity and other state-level characteristics with fertility rate changes. MAIN RESULTS AND THE ROLE OF CHANCE:Nationwide, fertility dropped by 17.5 births/month/100 000 WRA/year following Wave 1 and 9.2 births/month/100 000 WRA/year following Wave 2. The declines following Wave 1 were largest among majority-Democrat, more non-White states where people practiced greater social distancing. Greater COVID-19 wave severity was associated with steeper fertility rate decline post-Wave 1 in simple regression, but the association was attenuated when adjusted for other covariates. Adjusting for the economic impact of the pandemic (hypothesized mediator) also attenuated the effect. There was no relation between COVID-19 wave severity and fertility rate change following Wave 2. LIMITATIONS, REASONS FOR CAUTION:Our study harnesses state-level data so individual-level conclusions cannot be inferred. There may be residual confounding in our multivariable regression and we were underpowered to detect some effects. WIDER IMPLICATIONS OF THE FINDINGS:The COVID-19 pandemic initially impacted the national fertility rate but, overall, the fertility rate rebounded to the pre-pandemic level following Wave 2. Consistent with prior literature, COVID-19 wave severity did not appear to predict fertility rate change. Economic, racial, political, and social factors influenced state-specific fertility rates during the pandemic more than the severity of the outbreak alone. Future studies in other countries should also consider whether these factors account for internal heterogeneity when examining the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and other crises on fertility. STUDY FUNDING/COMPETING INTEREST(S):L.G.K. received funding from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (R00ES030403), M.C. from the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship Program (20-A0-00-1005789), and M.L. and E.S. from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (R01ES032808). None of the authors have competing interests. TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER:N/A.
Maternal urinary bisphenols and phthalates in relation to estimated fetal weight across mid to late pregnancy
BACKGROUND:Bisphenols and phthalates are high production volume chemicals used as additives in a variety of plastic consumer products leading to near ubiquitous human exposure. These chemicals have established endocrine disrupting properties and have been linked to a range of adverse reproductive and developmental outcomes. Here, we investigated exposure in relation to fetal growth. METHODS:Participants included 855 mother-fetal pairs enrolled in the population-based New York University Children's Health and Environment Study (NYU CHES). Bisphenols and phthalates were measured in maternal urine collected repeatedly during pregnancy. Analyses included 15 phthalate metabolites and 2 bisphenols that were detected in 50 % of participants or more. Fetal biometry data were extracted from electronic ultrasonography records and estimated fetal weight (EFW) was predicted for all fetuses at 20, 30, and 36 weeks gestation. We used quantile regression adjusted for covariates to model exposure-outcome relations across percentiles of fetal weight at each gestational timepoint. We examined sex differences using stratified models. RESULTS:Few statistically significant associations were observed across chemicals, gestational time periods, percentiles, and sexes. However, within gestational timepoints, we found that among females, the molar sums of the phthalates DiNP and DnOP were generally associated with decreases in EFW among smaller babies and increases in EFW among larger babies. Among males, the opposite trend was observed. However, confidence intervals were generally wide at the tails of the distribution. CONCLUSION/CONCLUSIONS:In this sample, exposure to bisphenols and phthalates was associated with small sex-specific shifts in fetal growth; however, few associations were observed at the median of fetal weight and confidence intervals in the tails were wide. Findings were strongest for DiNP and DnOP, which are increasingly used as replacements for DEHP, supporting the need for future research on these contaminants.
Chronotype and sleep duration interact to influence time to pregnancy: Results from a New York City cohort
Study objective: To study associations between nighttime sleep characteristics and time to pregnancy. Methods: Pregnant people age â‰¥18 years and<18 weeks"™ gestation were recruited from 3 New York University Grossman School of Medicine affiliated hospitals in Manhattan and Brooklyn (n = 1428) and enrolled into the New York University Children's Health and Environment Study. Participants in the first trimester of pregnancy were asked to recall their time to pregnancy and their sleep characteristics in the 3 months before conception. Results: Participants who reported sleeping<7 hours per night tended to have shorter time to pregnancy than those who slept 7-9 hours per night (adjusted fecundability odds ratio = 1.16, 95% confidence interval: 0.94, 1.41). Participants with a sleep midpoint of 4 AM or later tended to have longer time to pregnancy compared with those with earlier sleep midpoints (before 4 AM) (adjusted fecundability odds ratio = 0.88, 95% confidence interval: 0.74, 1.04). When stratified by sleep midpoint, sleeping<7 hours was significantly associated with shorter time to pregnancy only among those whose sleep midpoint was before 4 AM (adjusted fecundability odds ratio = 1.33, 95% confidence interval: 1.07, 1.67). Conclusions: The association of sleep duration with time to pregnancy was modified by chronotype, suggesting that both biological and behavioral aspects of sleep may influence fecundability.
Impact of telehealth on improving access to pregnancy care in an underserved population [Meeting Abstract]
Objective: Social determinants of health (SDOH) contribute to health inequities in pregnancy. The availability, convenience, and timeliness of access to care affects healthcare utilization. The COVID-19 pandemic exposed the need for efficient and widespread implementation of telehealth services. However, expanding telehealth services has changed adherence to maternal fetal medicine (MFM) at a large, urban, Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC). We describe the utilization of these services and its effect on adherence to MFM visits.
Study Design: This is a retrospective, quality improvement project comparing non-adherence to scheduled visits looking at two time frames: 1) Pre-COVID (8/1/2018-2/29/2020) in-person only 2) Post-COVID 1/1/2021-7/31/2022 in-person or virtual. All encounters in MFM at FQHC were included during these periods. In the Post-COVID period, patients had the option for either in-person or virtual visit at the time of scheduling, while in pre-COVID period, in-person visit was the only option. Chi-square was used to compare differences between groups, with p< 0.05 defined as significant.
Result(s): A total of 1,607 encounters were included, n=609 in the pre-COVID and n=998 in the post-COVID group. Encounter completion rates differed between the pre-COVID and post-COVID groups (80% vs. 86%, p= 0.001), Table. In the post-COVID group, when telehealth was an alternative option, non-adherence rates were significantly lower in comparison to when telehealth was not an option in the pre-COVID group. However, in the post-COVID group, the non-adherence rate between virtual only or in-person only visits were not significantly different (p=0.178).
Conclusion(s): The availability of either in-person or virtual visits improved compliance and access to MFM care in a FQHC. While the option of telehealth services can improve patient compliance with visits, this may exacerbate other disparities due to limited internet services, access to remote devices, or language barriers. Further research is needed to understand how telehealth can be an ongoing solution to overcome the SDOH that create inequity. [Formula presented] [Formula presented]
The relationship of suPAR levels and hypertensive disorders of pregnancy [Meeting Abstract]
Objective: Soluble urokinase plasminogen activator receptor (suPAR) is a biomarker of inflammation associated with autoimmune renal and cardiovascular disease that may be associated with preeclampsia. We aimed to evaluate plasma suPAR levels throughout pregnancy in women with and without hypertensive disorders of pregnancy (HDP), including preeclampsia, eclampsia, and gestational hypertension.
Study Design: This was a secondary analysis of the NYU Children's Health and Environment Study (CHES), a prospective birth cohort designed to assess the impact of prenatal exposure to environmental chemicals on maternal and child health. CHES participants with suPAR data in any trimester and information about HDP were included (n=329). We regressed suPAR levels on the gestational age at time of sample collection to assess change over the course of gestation. Wilcoxon signed-rank tests were used to assess whether suPAR levels in each trimester and averaged over pregnancy were different among participants with and without HDP. Among a subset of participants with repeated measures, we utilized paired Wilcoxon tests to assess the within-person change in suPAR across trimesters in both groups.
Result(s): Participants with HDP (n=44) were older and had higher body mass index. In the overall population, suPAR decreased by 1.1% per week of advancing gestation (p< 0.001). suPAR levels did not significantly differ between those with and without HDP at any sampling timepoint. However, among the subset with repeated measures, suPAR values significantly decreased across pregnancy among those without HDP (p< 0.001), but remained stable among those with HDP (p=0.58) (Figure 1).
Conclusion(s): Although HDP is a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in pregnancy, predictive biomarkers are lacking. suPAR levels decrease with advancing gestation among healthy women, but remain stable in women with HDP, which may reflect a heightened inflammatory state. Additional research is needed to understand if stable suPAR levels can predict HDP accurately in clinical practice. [Formula presented] [Formula presented]
The longitudinal impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on births in a single NYC health-care system [Meeting Abstract]
Objective: The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has led to reductions in pregnancy intention and subsequent births in the United States (US). We sought to describe how fluctuations in COVID-19 case rates impacted numbers of births at NYU Langone Health (NYULH) to better understand the impact of the ongoing pandemic on New York City (NYC) births.
Study Design: Beginning in March 2020, three COVID-19 "waves'' and two "dips'' were identified using the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention seven-day moving average of cases per 100,000 in NYC. We compared the number of births at two NYULH hospitals (Manhattan and Brooklyn) nine months following a COVID-19 wave or dip with births during the same window (to account for seasonality) two years prior (pre-COVID). We also performed a sensitivity analysis to account for post-COVID population movement using change-of-address request data from the US Postal Service.
Result(s): Table 1 shows numbers of births recorded in the periods of interest. Compared with pre-COVID, the largest reduction in births followed Wave 1 (-29.28%); as the pandemic went on, the difference vs. pre-COVID diminished. By Wave 2, the percent change was -6.38% and by Wave 3, there was a net increase (5.34%). Manhattan had a steeper decrease in live births following Wave 1; births rebounded in Brooklyn after Dip 2; and both sites reported increases following Wave 3, with a greater increase in Brooklyn (Figure 1). These trends were slightly attenuated after accounting for migration.
Conclusion(s): Births initially decreased during the pandemic; however, this decline attenuated as time passed and then reversed by Wave 3, when the number of births surpassed pre-COVID. This reversal may have resulted from delayed pregnancy intention or other factors. Changes in the number of births during the pandemic varied by hospital site, with a greater rebound in Brooklyn. Future studies are warranted that focus on the interplay between secular events, such the COVID-19 pandemic, and individual-level factors, including sociodemographics, in shaping pregnancy intention. [Formula presented] [Formula presented]
Changes in plasma suPAR levels across pregnancy and in relation to hypertensive disorders [Letter]
OBJECTIVE:, suggesting that elevated suPAR levels may reflect a heightened inflammatory response in preeclamptic pregnancies rather than serving as a pre-clinical indicator. No data currently exist on the trajectory of suPAR across pregnancy. In the present study, we investigated if and how plasma suPAR levels change across gestation and examined whether this change and the levels in each trimester varied between women with and without HDP. STUDY DESIGN/METHODS:Participants included pregnant individuals enrolled in the [study name removed for blinding], a prospective birth cohort designed to study an array of exposures and conditions relevant to maternal and child health. Maternal blood was collected at up to three time points during pregnancy and plasma suPAR levels were analyzed by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. Information on maternal HDP was abstracted from electronic medical records. Study participants with suPAR data in any trimester and information about HDP were eligible for inclusion (n=393); 64 non-HDP participants who had chronic hypertension (n=5), gestational diabetes mellitus (n=55), lupus (n=1), type 1 diabetes (n=1) or type 2 diabetes (n=2) were excluded, resulting in a final analytic sample of 329. The study was approved by the Institutional Review Board of the [institution removed for blinding] and all participants provided written informed consent. We first regressed suPAR levels on gestational age at the time of sample collection to assess change over the course of pregnancy. We did this for the sample overall and stratified by HDP status. Among the subset of participants with repeated measures, we used paired Wilcoxon signed-rank tests to assess the within-person change in suPAR across trimesters in both groups. Finally, we used Wilcoxon signed-rank tests to assess whether suPAR levels in each trimester and averaged over pregnancy were different among participants with and without HDP. RESULTS:and ranged from 16.8-50.1; 44% of the sample was overweight or obese defined by a BMI ≥ 25. The majority had at least a high school degree (90.1%) and reported never smoking cigarettes (92.9%). Participants with HDP (n=44) were older and had higher BMI; other participant characteristics did not significantly vary by HDP status. suPAR levels did not significantly differ between those with and without HDP at any gestational timepoint (Table 1), although the association was marginal when considering the third trimester such that those with HDP had higher suPAR levels (2.43 ng/mL vs. 2.12 ng/mL, p=0.11). In the sample overall, suPAR levels decreased by 1.1% per week of advancing gestation (p-value< 0.001); however, when stratified by HDP status, suPAR levels only significantly decreased among those without HDP (1.2% per week, p<0.001), while remaining more stable among the cases (0.8% per week, p=0.17) (Figure 1). This finding was also apparent when examining the subset of participants with repeated measures. Among those with paired samples that did not have HDP, the median suPAR level in early gestation (2.79 ng/mL) was significantly higher than late gestation (2.30 ng/mL) with a p-value <0.001 and large effect size r=0.634. In contrast, among those with paired samples and HDP, the median suPAR level in early gestation (2.37 ng/mL) was not significantly different than late gestation (2.45 ng/mL) with a p-value=0.578 and small effect size r=0.256. It is notable however that the sample size of participants with repeated measures and HDP was small (n=7) and the timing of HDP onset was variable across participants. CONCLUSIONS:Although HDP is a primary cause of morbidity and mortality in pregnancy, predictive biomarkers are lacking. suPAR levels decrease with advancing gestation among healthy women, but remain stable in women with HDP, which may reflect a heightened inflammatory state. Additional research is needed to understand how suPAR correlates with other biomarkers of HDP and whether stable suPAR levels can predict HDP accurately in clinical practice.
Can blood pressure trajectories indicate who is at risk for developing hypertensive disorders of pregnancy? [Letter]
Assessment and Application of Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) Risk Scores in the Prevention of Venous Thromboembolism Peri-and Postpartum in Systemic Lupus Erythematosus [Meeting Abstract]
Background/Purpose: Patients with SLE may be at increased risk for developing a venous thromboembolism (VTE), particularly in the postpartum period. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) guideline for postpartum VTE prophylaxis is unique in its inclusion of "active" SLE as an actionable risk factor. In this guideline, a score >= 3 drives a formal recommendation for a 6-week prophylactic treatment course with enoxaparin. Although not defined, "active" SLE alone scores 3 points. The inclusion of SLE raises concerns regarding appropriate attribution and subsequent management decisions. The current study applied the RCOG model to a cohort of postpartum SLE patients to determine whether these patients a) qualify as having "active" SLE b) have other risk factors for VTE c) received the recommended prophylaxis and d) had a postpartum VTE.
Method(s): The retrospective study comprised 55 pregnancies in 49 patients fulfilling criteria for classification of SLE based on ACR, SLICC or EULAR/ACR definitions consecutively seen over the last 5 years. Disease activity at delivery was assessed by the SLEPDAI using SELENA and Hybrid SELENA definitions for scoring proteinuria. Remission was assigned by applying the DORIS (Definitions of Remission in SLE) criteria. Patients not in remission were considered to have "active" SLE, even if a low level with only one clinical domain scored. RCOG scoring was calculated for each patient prior to and after delivery.
Result(s): The median age was 32 years (IQR 29-36 years) and the median BMI was 26.6 kg/m2 (IQR 23.0-30.9 kg/m2), with 49.1% African-American, 16.4% Asian, 29.1% White, 5.5% Other and 32.7% of Hispanic ethnicity. The median SELENA and Hybrid SELENA SLEPDAI scores were 2.0 (IQR 0-6) and 2.0 (IQR 0-5) respectively. The components of the RCOG model with each of its elements scored for the cohort (Table 1). 34 pregnancies (61.8%) were in DORIS remission throughout pregnancy. 21 (38.2%) were not in DORIS remission at delivery and received 3 points on the RCOG model, since by not achieving remission their SLE could be considered at least mildly active. Of these pregnancies, only 19% were recommended for VTE prophylaxis despite RCOG score >= 3. Only 35.7% of pregnancies in DORIS remission, but with 3 points for non-SLE related VTE risk factors, were recommended for VTE prophylaxis (Table 2). Of the 20 pregnancies in remission with an RCOG score < 3 after assessing all risk factors, 15% were nevertheless recommended for VTE prophylaxis. In contrast, of the 14 inactive pregnancies with RCOG score >= 3 for non-SLE activity factors, only 35.7% were recommended for VTE prophylaxis. No patients had a postpartum VTE regardless of therapy.
Conclusion(s): These data reveal that even for SLE patients in remission at the time of delivery, points for SLE alone should not automatically be assigned on the RCOG model. However, those who are in remission may still warrant VTE prophylaxis if other non-SLE related risk factors are present. Although no patient had a postpartum VTE, prophylactic anticoagulation should be instituted only when clinically appropriate. The healthcare team should carefully consider disease activity before applying 3 points for the diagnosis of SLE
The Effect of Maternal United States Nativity on Racial/Ethnic Differences in Fetal Growth
While racial/ethnic differences in fetal growth have been documented, few studies have examined whether they vary by exogenous factors, which could elucidate underlying causes. The purpose of this study was to characterize longitudinal fetal growth patterns by maternal sociodemographic, behavioral, and clinical factors and examine whether associations with maternal race/ethnicity varied by these other predictors. Between 2016-2019, pregnant women receiving prenatal care at NYU Langone were invited to participate in a birth cohort study. Women completed questionnaires and clinical data were abstracted from ultrasound examinations. Maternal characteristics were assessed in relation to fetal biometric measures throughout pregnancy using linear mixed models. Maternal race/ethnicity was consistently associated with fetal biometry: Black, Hispanic, and Asian women had fetuses with smaller head circumference, abdominal circumference, and biparietal diameter than White women. The associations between race/ethnicity and fetal growth varied by nativity for Asian women, such that the disparity between Asian and White women was much greater for US-born than foreign-born women. However, associations for Black and Hispanic women did not vary by nativity. While racial/ethnic-specific fetal growth standards have been proposed, work is needed to elucidate what could be driving these differences, including factors that occur in parallel and differentially affect fetal growth.