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Sepsis During Pregnancy Linked to Increased Risk of Placental Dysfunction: Study

Women who experience sepsis infections during pregnancy face an increased risk of complications before and after childbirth, according to the findings of new research.

In a report published this month in the medical journal JAMA Network Open, researchers from University of California San Francisco found that side effects of sepsis during pregnancy may impact the risk of adverse events and the need for special procedures, such as a C-section, preterm delivery, severe infection during delivery, and postpartum hemorrhage.

The study involved a review of data on 14,565 patients with non-anomalous, singleton pregnancies, who delivered after 20 weeks of pregnancy. Researchers included data from August 2012 to August 2018, at an academic referral center in San Francisco, California, concluding that women who suffered sepsis infections during pregnancy faced double the risk of prenatal complications, including an increased risk of other infections during pregnancy and complications during and after delivery.

Overall, 0.4% of patients were in the sepsis group and 99.6% of patients were in the non-sepsis group during pregnancy.

Women who had pregnancy sepsis infections were all more likely to have an increased risk of cesarean section delivery, postpartum hemorrhage, and preterm delivery overall. In fact, they suffered more severe infections during delivery compared to patients who did not have sepsis infections.

Urinary tract infections accounted for about 41% of infections among the sepsis group and was the most common type of infection seen. An estimated 37% suffered from pulmonary infections. About 9% of patients who suffered sepsis infections were admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU).

Sepsis infections earlier than 24 weeks of pregnancy was linked with greater risk of placental dysfunction, maternal hypertensive disorder, and newborns who were small for gestational age.

Sepsis is a life-threatening condition caused by an unusually severe response to infection. It can lead to widespread inflammation in the body and can also lead to organ failure and death if it goes untreated. Maternal sepsis is the second leading cause of maternal mortality in the United States.

“This study found that pregnancies complicated by antepartum sepsis were associated with higher odds of placental dysfunction,” the researchers wrote. “These findings suggest that increased antenatal surveillance should be considered for these patients.”

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