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

Newly discovered viral marker could help predict flu severity in infected patients

October 20, 2017
Flu viruses contain defective genetic material that may activate the immune system in infected patients, and new research published in PLOS Pathogens suggests that lower levels of these molecules could increase flu severity.

H7N9 influenza is both lethal and transmissible in animal model for flu

October 19, 2017
In 2013, an influenza virus that had never before been detected began circulating among poultry in China. It caused several waves of human infection and in late 2016, the number of people to become sick from the H7N9 virus ...

Flu simulations suggest pandemics more likely in spring, early summer

October 19, 2017
New statistical simulations suggest that Northern Hemisphere flu pandemics are most likely to emerge in late spring or early summer at the tail end of the normal flu season, according to a new study published in PLOS Computational ...

New insights into herpes virus could inform vaccine development

October 18, 2017
A team of scientists has discovered new insights into the mechanisms of Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection, as well as two antibodies that block the virus' entry into cells. The findings, published in Proceedings of the National ...

Pair of discoveries illuminate new paths to flu and anthrax treatments

October 17, 2017
Two recent studies led by biologists at the University of California San Diego have set the research groundwork for new avenues to treat influenza and anthrax poisoning.

Portable 3-D scanner assesses patients with elephantiasis

October 17, 2017
An estimated 120 million people worldwide are infected with lymphatic filariasis, a parasitic, mosquito-borne disease that can cause major swelling and deformity of the legs, a condition known as elephantiasis. Health-care ...

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.