Staphylococcus aureus is a type of bacteria that is naturally found on the skin and nasal openings of humans. In such cases, it does not cause any harm to the host’s body.
However, Staphylococcus aureus causes infection when it finds its way into the host’s body through cuts, sores, or even food.
We would be looking at the association between Staphylococcus aureus and miscarriage, risk factors for Staphylococcus infection during pregnancy, and also pregnancy complications caused by Staphylococcus.
What is Staphylococcus capable of?
A person infected with Staphylococcus aureus can manifest a range of infections such as boils or skin blisters, bone and joint infections, infections of the lungs or upper respiratory tract infections, and sepsis.
A pregnant woman must be aware of the infections that threaten her health and pregnancy. There are studies to ascertain whether or not Staphylococcus aureus can colonize the female reproductive system, affecting its structure and function.
Staphylococcus aureus can cause disease in almost every part of the human body. When it colonizes a part, it releases toxins that eventually develop into a disease.
Staphylococcus Aureus and Pregnancy: How does staph infection affect pregnancy?
Naturally in women, the vagina carries healthy bacteria, known as lactobacillus. This bacteria helps to prevent the colonization of harmful bacteria and regulate the pH of the vagina.
However, during pregnancy, there is a depletion of this bacteria, making the vagina more susceptible to pathogenic bacteria which include Staphylococcus aureus.
Here are some of the ways a staph infection can affect pregnancy:
- Preterm birth
- Neonatal sepsis
- Reduced birth weight
1. Preterm birth
Studies suggest that women with bacteria infections during pregnancy have an increased risk of preterm birth.
This could be due to the inflammation caused by the bacteria or other mechanisms that are not fully understood.
We know a lot about the bacteria that live in the vagina, but not as much about the bacteria that invade the amniotic fluid during pregnancy.
This study reviewed the research on the bacteria found in the amniotic fluid and found that many of the same bacteria that are found in the vaginal are also found in the amniotic fluid.
This suggests that infections may enter the amniotic fluid from the vagina and may also spread through the blood leading to preterm birth.
In addition, another study found that women with recurrent miscarriages were more likely to carry Staphylococcus aureus in their vaginal flora than women with normal pregnancies.
Although the study did not establish a causal relationship between the bacterium and miscarriage.
It is an infection of the fetal membranes that surround the fetus in the uterus. This condition can cause preterm labor and other complications.
The most common bacteria that cause chorioamnionitis are genital mycoplasmas, anaerobes, enteric gram-negative bacilli, and group B streptococcus.
There has also been a few cases where chorioamnionitis was caused by Staphylococcus aureus. These cases have been characterized by rapid disease progression and poor prognosis.
In this case report, a 22-year-old woman with fever and acute lower abdominal pain at 39 weeks gestation was diagnosed with acute chorioamnionitis due to S. aureus. The baby was delivered by immediate cesarean section and required neonatal intensive care.
Interestingly, most patients in previous reports developed chorioamnionitis due to S. aureus despite intact membranes, suggesting that the infection was spread through the bloodstream rather than from the vagina.
3. Neonatal sepsis
Staph infections can be passed from mother to baby during delivery and can cause neonatal sepsis, a serious bacterial infection that affects newborns.
A study looked at neonatal Staphylococcus aureus (SA) sepsis in Western Australia from 2001 to 2020.
The overall incidence was low at 0.10 per 1000 live births and it decreased over time. SA was commonly found in endotracheal aspirates and infants with SA sepsis needed longer ventilator support than those without sepsis.
The study also found that SA sepsis was linked to worse neurodevelopmental outcomes compared to infants without sepsis.
4. Reduced birth weight
Some studies suggest that staphylococcal infections during pregnancy can lead to reduced fetal growth and lower birth weight.
Are staph infections common in pregnancy?
Staphylococcus infection can affect different stages of a woman’s reproductive cycle; from pre-pregnancy to pregnancy and post-pregnancy.
Vaginal colonization of Staphylococcus aureus can increase the risk of pregnancy complications. These complications arise when the Staphylococcus aureus bacteria infects the amniotic fluid surrounding the baby.
Staphylococcus aureus infection is not common in pregnant women but the most common manifestations of Staphylococcus aureus infection in pregnant women are skin and soft tissue infection.
Some factors put a pregnant woman at risk of contracting the Staphylococcus aureus infection.
- History of previous infection with Staphylococcus aureus
- Presence of an open wound on the skin of the pregnant woman. Insertion of invasive medical devices such as the urinary catheter in a patient
- Usage of intravenous drugs by pregnant women.
- Infection with Group B Streptococcus [GBS].
Can Staphylococcus aureus cause miscarriage?
Typically, pregnancy is said to have been miscarried when it is lost within less than 20 weeks of conception.
Most miscarriages occur within the first three months of pregnancy. The risk of miscarriage in an average fetus decreases as the pregnancy advances.
In most cases, the cause of miscarriage is unknown. However, a bacterial infection can put a woman at risk of preterm delivery.
Subsequently, there is no definitive evidence that Staphylococcus aureus can directly cause miscarriage but some studies suggest that the presence of this bacterium in the genital tract during pregnancy may increase the risk of complications.
These complications as explained above are preterm birth, premature rupture of membranes, and chorioamnionitis (infection of the fetal membranes).
For instance, Staphylococcus aureus is a very unusual cause of urinary tract infections. Urinary tract infections developed by pregnant women when left untreated for long periods may lead to a miscarriage.
Because Staphylococcus aureus infection in the genital tract of pregnant women most times is accompanied by Group B Streptococcus infection, there’s a higher chance of miscarriage as GBS is known to cause pregnancy complications.
A combination of GBS and Staphylococcus aureus can lead to premature rupture of membranes, late miscarriage, and premature birth.
Studies have linked Bacterial vaginosis (BV) condition to serious medical complications such as premature delivery and Staphylococcus has been established as one of the specific pathogenic bacteria related to BV.
Exposure to Staph infection while pregnant
Exposure to Staph infection while pregnant can cause concern for both the mother and the unborn child. It is important that you monitor your health for any signs of infection and also seek medical attention.
It is also necessary to also take steps that will prevent the spread of Staph infection by practicing good hygiene, such as:
- Washing your hands frequently with soap and water,
- Avoiding contact with infected individuals and,
- Avoiding sharing personal items such as towels and clothing.
Symptoms of Staph Infection in Pregnancy
Monitor your health for any signs of infections such as:
- Tenderness in the affected area
It is advised that pregnant women seek medical attention at the first sign of an infection. While Staphylococcus aureus can cause miscarriage, it is very highly unlikely.
Pregnant women are advised to take precautionary measures like practicing good hygiene, avoiding close contact with the sick, and washing their hands frequently to prevent a Staphylococcus aureus infection.
Can Staphylococcus aureus affect pregnancy?
Yes, Staphylococcus aureus can potentially affect pregnancy. The potential risks and complications associated with infection can be particularly concerning during pregnancy.
Is Staphylococcus aureus dangerous in pregnancy?
If left untreated, Staphylococcus aureus infections during pregnancy can potentially lead to complications.
Can Staphylococcus aureus be treated during pregnancy?
Yes, it can be treated during pregnancy but the choice of treatment will depend on the severity of the infection, the gestational age of the fetus, and the potential risks and benefits of different treatment options. consult with a healthcare provider.
Can a baby be born with Staph infection?
A case of transmission of Staphylococcus aureus from mother to infant is at the point of vaginal birth. The infection may be transmitted from the vagina of the mother to the mucous membrane of the baby, resulting in infection of the infant.
This can cause the baby to suffer skin and soft tissue infections and other Staphylococcal infections.
Last Updated on September 13, 2023 by Our Editorial Team