CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 · Geburtshilfe Frauenheilkd 2023; 83(02): 184-191
DOI: 10.1055/a-1987-5716
GebFra Science
Original Article

Fewer Preterm Births in the First COVID-19 Pandemic Year? An Evaluation of the Berlin Perinatal Data for the Years 2017 to 2020

Article in several languages: English | deutsch
Matthias David
1   Klinik für Gynäkologie, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Virchow-Klinikum, Berlin, Germany
Tilman Reutter
2   LAG DeQS Berlin, Berlin, Germany
› Author Affiliations


Introduction The study analyzes and interprets possible effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the preterm birth rate. Research questions included: were there fewer preterm births in Berlin in 2020, the first year of the pandemic, compared to the three years before the pandemic? Were there differences in preterm birth rates grouped according to weeks of gestation?

Method The perinatal data of all singleton pregnancies were evaluated with regard to birth rates in Berlin, and the numbers of preterm neonates born in the three pre-pandemic years from 2017 to 2019 were compared to the rate for 2020, the first year of the pandemic.

Results The overall number of singleton pregnancies born in maternity hospitals and labor wards in Berlin decreased in the first year of the pandemic. The percentage of preterm neonates born before 37 + 0 weeks of gestation (GW) was significantly lower in 2020 compared to the three previous years, with significantly more preterm neonates born before 28 + 0 GW and significantly fewer preterm neonates born between 28 + 0 to 35 + 0 GW. In 2020, significantly fewer neonates born before 37 + 0 weeks of gestation were delivered by primary caesarean section. The incidence of induced births was approximately the same.

Conclusions In the first year of the pandemic, a range of social, iatrogenic, and biological factors may have had an impact on preterm birth rates. A Germany-wide evaluation of perinatal data across different German federal states for the period 2020 to 2022 would offer the opportunity to identify the causes of this lower rate of preterm births and determine whether conclusions can be drawn from this which would affect future strategies to reduce preterm birth rates.

Publication History

Received: 03 July 2022

Accepted after revision: 20 November 2022

Article published online:
03 February 2023

© 2023. The Author(s). This is an open access article published by Thieme under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonDerivative-NonCommercial-License, permitting copying and reproduction so long as the original work is given appropriate credit. Contents may not be used for commercial purposes, or adapted, remixed, transformed or built upon. (

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