-- Robert Preidt
THURSDAY, Sept. 26 (HealthDay News) -- In a disturbing trend,
rates of severe sepsis and deaths from sepsis during childbirth
rose sharply in the United States over a 10-year period, a new
The researchers said their findings show the need for improved
detection of sepsis in all women during labor and delivery, even
those with no apparent risk factors for sepsis, a severe illness in
which bacteria overwhelm the bloodstream.
For the study, Dr. Melissa Bauer, of the University of Michigan
Health System in Ann Arbor, and colleagues analyzed national data
from 1998 through 2008 and found that, overall, sepsis occurred at
a rate of one per every 3,333 women who were in a hospital to give
birth. The rate did not change significantly over the study
Severe sepsis -- which can lead to multiple organ failure --
occurred in about one in 11,000 women. The rate of severe sepsis
approximately doubled from 1998 to 2008: from about one in 15,400
to one in 7,250 women in labor.
Fatal sepsis occurred in about one in 106,000 cases. Both severe
and fatal sepsis increased by about 10 percent per year, found the
study in the October issue of the journal
Anesthesia & Analgesia.
Several medical conditions were associated with an increased
risk of severe sepsis, including congestive heart failure, chronic
liver and kidney disease, and lupus. Cerclage, or "cervical stitch"
-- which is done to prevent premature birth -- was another
significant risk factor, according to a journal news release.
Similar to risk factors for other complications of labor and
delivery, other factors associated with an increased risk of severe
sepsis included older age, being black, and having Medicaid
But none of these factors explained more than 6 percent of the
sepsis cases. Many women who developed severe or fatal sepsis
during labor and delivery had no known risk factors, according to
The data did not reveal what might be causing the sharp increase
in severe and fatal sepsis during labor and delivery, but it may be
due to factors "such as increasing microbial resistance, obesity,
smoking, substance abuse and poor general health," the study
The finding that many cases of severe and fatal sepsis occur in
women with no apparent risk factors "underscores the need for
developing systems of care that increase sensitivity for disease
detection across the entire population," the researchers
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