Maternal-Newborn Health System Changes and Outcomes in Ontario Canada during Wave 1 of the COVID-19 Pandemic-A Retrospective Study



To determine the population-level impact of COVID-19 pandemic–related obstetric practice changes on maternal and newborn outcomes.


Segmented regression analysis examined changes that occurred 240 weeks pre-pandemic through the first 32 weeks of the pandemic using data from Ontario’s Better Outcomes Registry & Network. Outcomes included birth location, length of stay, labour analgesia, mode of delivery, preterm birth, and stillbirth. Immediate and gradual effects were modelled with terms representing changes in intercepts and slopes, corresponding to the start of the pandemic.


There were 799 893 eligible pregnant individuals included in the analysis; 705 767 delivered in the pre-pandemic period and 94 126 during the pandemic wave 1 period. Significant immediate decreases were observed for hospital births (relative risk [RR] 0.99; 95% CI 0.98–0.99), length of stay (median change –3.29 h; 95% CI –3.81 to –2.77), use of nitrous oxide (RR 0.11; 95% CI 0.09–0.13) and general anesthesia (RR 0.69; 95% CI 0.58– 0.81), and trial of labour after cesarean (RR 0.89; 95% CI 0.83–0.96). Conversely, there were significant immediate increases in home births (RR 1.35; 95% CI 1.21–1.51), and use of epidural (RR 1.02; 95% CI 1.01–1.04) and regional anesthesia (RR 1.01; 95% CI 1.01–1.02). There were no significant immediate changes for any other outcomes, including preterm birth (RR 0.99; 95% CI 0.93–1.05) and stillbirth (RR 1.11; 95% CI 0.87–1.42).


Provincial health system changes implemented at the start of the pandemic resulted in immediate clinical practice changes but not insignificant increases in adverse outcomes.

Lead Researchers

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  1. Ann Sprague

    Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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  2. Deshayne Fell

    Affiliate Investigator, CHEO Research Institute

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