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Louisiana baby dies after mom with COVID-19 goes into premature labor

Officials in Louisiana say COVID-19 likely caused a woman to go into premature labor and as a result, her baby did not survive. East Baton Rouge Coroner Dr. Beau Clark announced in a press briefing on Monday that the baby's death was counted as a coronavirus-related death.

Clark said the mother went to the hospital after experiencing coronavirus symptoms. "She ultimately ended up having to be put on the ventilator because of the profound nature of the shortness of breath, and has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus," Clark said during the briefing.

The coroner said the woman unfortunately ended up going into labor prematurely and that "the baby, because of the extreme prematurity, did not survive." The child was just under 22 weeks gestation, Clark said. He did not have a status update on the mother. 

Clark, who is president of the Louisiana State Coroner Association, said the baby did not test positive for COVID-19, but after speaking to other health professionals, a decision was made to consider it a COVID-19-related death.

"Had [the mother] not been COVID-19 positive, had not required ventilator support, had not had the shortness of breath, the hypoxia [oxygen deprivation] that is associated with the virus, likely she would not have gone into preterm labor and there would have been a different outcome," Clark said. He added that there have been cases similar to this in the U.S., according to other health experts he has spoken to. 

"This brings up a strong point that we should really pay attention to the quarantine, pay attention to the stay-at-home orders, pay attention to social distancing and the isolation," he said. "We can all be affected by [coronavirus]."

Louisiana has been one of the states hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic, with a surge of cases believed by have been spread through the crowds that gathered for Mardi Gras last month.

In the press briefing, Clark urged pregnant women to be wary and treat coronavirus as seriously as anyone else in the community, and to continue social distancing. 

"You protect your newborn by protecting yourself," Clark said.

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