Most pregnancy-related infections are caused by four treatable conditions

October 9, 2012

In low-and-middle income countries, pregnancy-related infections are a major cause of maternal death, can also be fatal to unborn and newborn babies, and are mostly caused by four types of conditions that are treatable and preventable, according to a review by US researchers published in this week's PLOS Medicine.

The authors, led by Michael Gravett and a team of investigators from the University of Washington in Seattle, PATH (Program for Appropriate Technology in Health), and GAPPS (Global Alliance to Prevent Prematurity and Stillbirth, Seattle Children's) reviewed all published studies with information about maternal infections, paying particular attention to studies from Africa and Asia (where most—80%—of global occur), in order to identify appropriate strategies for detecting infections and providing effective interventions. They found that most life-threatening pregnancy-related infections are caused by infections of the genital tract, urinary tract, , and infections related to abortion.

The authors recommend that interventions targeting each type of infection be integrated into antenatal care services, especially at the first visit and also at the onset of labor. They also advocate for affordable diagnostic tests and treatment to be provided to pregnant women at the clinic on the one visit (point-of-care), and for improved data collection on the types of organisms causing pregnancy-related infections.

The authors say: "Our review identified four clinical syndromes, and microbes associated with them, that appear to be responsible for most cases of life-threatening pregnancy related infections in low-and-middle-income countries."

They continue: "Each of these occurs at a distinct time during pregnancy, providing opportunities for screening and prevention."

The authors add: "There is a great need for comprehensive studies in low-and- exploring the epidemiology, risk factors, and microbiology of life-threatening maternal infections."

They conclude: "Without such data, women will continue to be treated inappropriately and experience potentially preventable mortality and morbidity."

Explore further: Researchers may have discovered key to help women fight infections during pregnancy

More information: Gravett CA, Gravett MG, Martin ET, Bernson JD, Khan S, et al. (2012) Serious and Life-Threatening Pregnancy-Related Infections: Opportunities to Reduce the Global Burden. PLoS Med 9(10): e1001324. doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001324

Related Stories

Researchers may have discovered key to help women fight infections during pregnancy

July 21, 2011
A normal but concerning consequence of pregnancy is the fact that pregnant women are more susceptible to infection. University of Minnesota Medical School researchers have identified the underlying mechanisms for this physiologic ...

Maternal deaths cut by half: UN

May 16, 2012
Better care has cut the number of women dying in pregnancy and childbirth by nearly half in the past two decades, but there is still a death every two minutes, according to UN figures released Wednesday.

Study examines new treatment for recurrent urinary tract infections

April 15, 2011
Urinary tract infections are common in women, costing an estimated $2.5 billion per year to treat in 2000 in the United States alone. These infections frequently recur, affecting 2 to 3 percent of all women. A depletion ...

Recommended for you

Zika virus stifles pregnant women's weakened immune system to harm baby, study finds

August 21, 2017
The Zika virus, linked to congenital birth defects and miscarriages, suppresses a pregnant woman's immune system, enabling the virus to spread and increasing the chances an unborn baby will be harmed, a Keck School of Medicine ...

Fatty liver can cause damage to other organs via crosstalk

August 21, 2017
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is increasingly common. Approximately every third adult in industrialized countries has a morbidly fatty liver. This not only increases the risk of chronic liver diseases such as liver cirrhosis ...

Novel approach to track HIV infection

August 18, 2017
Northwestern Medicine scientists have developed a novel method of tracking HIV infection, allowing the behavior of individual virions—infectious particles—to be connected to infectivity.

Faulty gene linked to obesity in adults

August 18, 2017
Groundbreaking new research linking obesity and metabolic dysfunction to a problem in the energy generators in cells has been published by researchers from the Harry Perkins Institute of Medical Research and The University ...

Two lung diseases killed 3.6 million in 2015: study

August 17, 2017
The two most common chronic lung diseases claimed 3.6 million lives worldwide in 2015, according to a tally published Thursday in The Lancet Respiratory Medicine.

New test differentiates between Lyme disease, similar illness

August 16, 2017
Lyme disease is the most commonly reported vector-borne illness in the United States. But it can be confused with similar conditions, including Southern Tick-Associated Rash Illness. A team of researchers led by Colorado ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.