Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

MRSA in pregnancy may be less dangerous than previously thought

April 18, 2012
Vanderbilt University Medical Center
The perceived need to swab the noses of pregnant women and newborns for the presence of MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus) may be unfounded, according to a new study. It is often feared that mothers carrying MRSA may risk transmitting an infection to their newborn babies, but researchers found that babies rarely became ill from MRSA infections, despite frequently carrying the germ.

Vanderbilt pediatric infectious disease researchers studying methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) say fears that mothers carrying the germ may set their newborns up for infection are unfounded.

Related Articles

Buddy Creech, M.D., MPH, senior author of the recent study in Pediatrics, said the research is directed at a recent trend of swabbing the noses of pregnant women, and even more frequently, newborn babies in neonatal intensive care units, for the presence of MRSA.

"Labs were finding a substantial amount of MRSA. Even in our study, we found 20 percent of pregnant women will have it, as will 20 percent of babies at eight weeks. But there is tremendous anxiety about what that means -- and for physicians, what do you do?" Creech said.

Creech said the concern stems in part from knowledge of another bacteria that pose a serious risk to babies, Group B strep.

This bacteria is transmitted from a carrier mother to her baby, either in pregnancy or during birth, a process called "vertical" transmission. In most states, women are tested for Group B strep in their third trimester because eradicating it at that time can save infants.

Recently, labs have begun reporting back to physicians when MRSA is detected in a woman's Group B strep test. The concern was mothers might vertically transmit MRSA as well, exposing babies to an increased risk of illness.

In older populations of children and adults, there is evidence that colonization with a certain strain of MRSA, called USA300, increases the risk of illness: most commonly skin boils, but occasionally serious blood and joint infections.

The study enrolled more than 500 pregnant women in Nashville and Memphis. Nasal and vaginal swabs were collected and tested for the presence of bacteria at regular intervals, including at the time of delivery. Babies were swabbed right after birth and at 2 and 4 months of age.

The results show little vertical transmission of MRSA from mother to child. However, by age 2 months, babies closely matched their mother's carrier status. This suggests a mother who carries S. aureus bacteria in her nose will give it to her baby and her baby will become colonized from close contact within six to eight weeks after birth. This is called horizontal transmission.

Creech said describing the timing and mode of transmission may be important, but the most critical finding in this research is that babies rarely became ill with MRSA infections.

"We don't want to overreact to carriage when incidence of disease is low. A lot of babies are colonized. Twenty percent at 2 months of age is the highest rate we've ever seen, but in our study only two babies got disease," Creech said.

The Vanderbilt research did find that of the MRSA carriers, about 30 percent of mothers and babies share the USA300 strains. But in this newborn population, many of the genes responsible for the increased virulence of USA300 were not present; suggesting that not all MRSA are created equal.

So in answer to the question what should be done when MRSA colonization is detected in a pregnant woman, Creech said the best action may be no action at all. He said the next step in research is to determine if mother-to-child transmission of MRSA in infancy might provide benefits, like greater protection against more serious MRSA illnesses later in life.

The study's first author is Natalia Jimenez-Truque, MSCI, an Epidemiology graduate student in Pediatric Infectious Diseases.

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Vanderbilt University Medical Center. The original article was written by Carole Bartoo. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. N. Jimenez-Truque, S. Tedeschi, E. J. Saye, B. D. McKenna, W. Langdon, J. P. Wright, A. Alsentzer, S. Arnold, B. R. Saville, W. Wang, I. Thomsen, C. B. Creech. Relationship Between Maternal and Neonatal Staphylococcus aureus Colonization. Pediatrics, 2012; DOI: 10.1542/peds.2011-2308

Cite This Page:

Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "MRSA in pregnancy may be less dangerous than previously thought." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 18 April 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418131443.htm>.
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. (2012, April 18). MRSA in pregnancy may be less dangerous than previously thought. ScienceDaily. Retrieved March 31, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418131443.htm
Vanderbilt University Medical Center. "MRSA in pregnancy may be less dangerous than previously thought." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120418131443.htm (accessed March 31, 2015).

Share This

More From ScienceDaily

More Health & Medicine News

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Solitair Device Aims to Takes Guesswork out of Sun Safety

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Mar. 31, 2015) — The Solitair device aims to take the confusion out of how much sunlight we should expose our skin to. Small enough to be worn as a tie or hair clip, it monitors the user&apos;s sun exposure by taking into account their skin pigment, location and schedule. Matthew Stock reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Soda, Salt and Sugar: The Next Generation of Taxes

Washington Post (Mar. 30, 2015) — Denisa Livingston, a health advocate for the Dinι Community Advocacy Alliance, and the Post&apos;s Abby Phillip discuss efforts around the country to make unhealthy food choices hurt your wallet as much as your waistline. Video provided by Washington Post
Powered by NewsLook.com
UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

UnitedHealth Buys Catamaran

Reuters - Business Video Online (Mar. 30, 2015) — The $12.8 billion merger will combine the U.S.&apos; third and fourth largest pharmacy benefit managers. Analysts say smaller PBMs could also merge. Fred Katayama reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

S. Leone in New Anti-Ebola Lockdown

AFP (Mar. 28, 2015) — Sierra Leone imposed a three-day nationwide lockdown Friday for the second time in six months in a bid to prevent a resurgence of the deadly Ebola virus. Duration: 01:17 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.


Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News


Free Subscriptions

Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile

Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?

Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile iPhone Android Web
Follow Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins