Stillborn Fetus Tested Positive for COVID in Second Incident in Israel

The mother, who was 36-weeks pregnant, was admitted to hospital after she stopped feeling the fetus moving

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Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava
Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava Credit: Ezra Levi
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

A pregnant woman with coronavirus lost her fetus on Saturday, in the second incident in Israel in which a fetus was found to have contracted the virus in the womb.

The woman, who was 36-weeks pregnant, was admitted to Meir Hospital in Kfar Sava after she stopped feeling the fetus moving, and the doctors induced labor. Subsequent tests found that the fetus also tested positive for COVID-19. 

Earlier this month, the Health Ministry reported that a fetus contracted coronavirus and died in the central Israel city of Ashdod, in the first such case in Israel and one of only a few reported in the world.

Although doctors said it was impossible to rule out an alternative cause of death, they said there was a high probability that the death was caused by the virus. 

Doctors at Assuta Medical Center in Ashdod subsequently induced labor to remove the fetus, with tests finding that both she and the fetus had contracted the virus. The doctors believe that it is likely that the fetus contracted the virus through the umbilical cord.  

In a further incident in February, a 32-year-old Israeli who was 30 weeks pregnant died along with her fetus. 

Despite tremendous efforts made by a multidisciplinary team of senior specialists, which included prolonged resuscitation efforts and even a caesarean section, doctors were unable to save the mother and her fetus, Hadassah University Hospital said. The woman was a mother of four.

At the start of the month, the Health Ministry revised its position regarding the vaccination of pregnant women, and now recommends that women at every stage of pregnancy get vaccinated. Previously, the ministry recommended that pregnant women get vaccinated only in the second trimester of their pregnancy or later, unless otherwise in an at-risk group for severe coronavirus infection.

In late January, following a rise in the number of pregnant women hospitalized due to the virus, Israel’s Health Ministry and council for gynecological health began to recommend the coronavirus vaccine for pregnant women and women needing or undergoing fertility treatment, particularly those at high risk exposure or suffering underlying conditions. The recommendation was made despite the fact that neither pregnant nor breastfeeding women were included in Pfizer’s clinical trials due to concern for the lives of the women and their fetuses.

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