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A new research initiative is taking aim at sepsis—an infection that can take the life of mom and baby.

Maternal sepsis is a significant danger to women and their babies around the world.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Global Maternal Sepsis Study (GLOSS), maternal sepsis infections cause the death of an estimated 35,000 women each year, and contributes to the death of more than 100,000 new mothers. Each year, sepsis takes the life of more than one million babies.

What is Sepsis?

Sepsis is a potentially fatal infection that can be contracted by those of any age.  As we discussed earlier, sepsis is a condition caused by the immune system of someone already suffering an infection.  Research continues into the triggers that cause the immune system to create the overwhelming response that is sepsis.  It is the immune response that endangers life, especially if the body goes into shock and multiple organs are affected.

In hospital and other care settings, sepsis can rise out of an infection introduced by poor standards of care.  In the case of childbirth, an infection in mom in childbirth can have serious health consequences for her, and for her child.  When sepsis develops during a pregnancy, after a miscarriage or abortion, or during or after childbirth, it is called maternal sepsis.  Neonatal sepsis occurs in babies less than 90 days old.

Neonatal sepsis can occur shortly after birth or later, especially if the baby is hospitalized.  Risk factors for infant sepsis can include:

  • Rupture of the membranes of a mother more than 18 hours before birth
  • Pre-term birth
  • Group B Strep colonization in mother that is passed to the child at birth
  • Chorioamnionitis, an infection of tissues of placenta or amniotic fluid
  • Hospitalization after birth

Recently a new initiative was introduced by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to curb incidence of maternal sepsis.

Using the antibiotic azithromycin, the clinical trial will enroll 34,000 women in seven countries with high incidence of maternal sepsis.  Half of the women will receive one dose of the antibiotic at the outset of labor. All of the women will then be monitored for infection or fever during their hospital admission and for six-weeks after. The trial will also follow the women at facilities outside the hospital where they gave birth.

The study will determine whether the administration of the antibiotic can significantly impact infection in mother and child and avert maternal and neonatal sepsis.

If you, or your child, are harmed through care you experience during pregnancy or birth, or if you suffer a healthcare-associated infection, speak with our experienced legal team.

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With more than 35 years of successful experience pursuing physicians and healthcare institutions on behalf of injured patients, the legal team at Schochor, Staton, Goldberg, and Cardea, P.A. delivers unsurpassed legal representation and advice. Contact us today to or call us at 410-234-1000 to schedule a free consultation to discuss your case.