Postpartum infections; prevalence, associated obstetric factors and the role of vitamin D
Abstract: Background: Postpartum infections are a major cause of maternal mortality and morbidity worldwide. Breast infection, endometritis, urinary tract infection and wound infections are the most common postpartum infections and together they affect almost 20% of women after childbirth. Some risk factors for postpartum infections, for example cesarean section, have been relatively well studied, but other presumable risk factors are yet to be confirmed.The proportion of pregnant women who are overweight or obese is increasing in most parts of the world. Increased maternal body mass index (BMI) is associated with maternal and infant morbidity. The association between overweight / obesity and postpartum infections is incompletely understood. Vitamin D deficiency has in epidemiological studies been shown to increase the risk of various infections. Furthermore, vitamin D is an important factor in the human immune system. Concomitantly, vitamin D supplementation seems protective against some types of infections. Whether vitamin D deficiency is a risk factor for postpartum infections has not been studied.Material and Methods: In a population-based observational study using questionnaires, the prevalences of postpartum wound infections, endometritis, urinary tract infections and mastitis in the southeast region of Sweden were estimated (Paper I). All women giving birth in the region during one year (n=11 124) were asked to participate. Papers II and III were cohort studies based on all deliveries in Sweden during eight years (2005-2012). Data sources were the Swedish Medical Birth Register, the Swedish National Patient Register and the Swedish Prescribed Drugs Register. In paper II all term deliveries were included (n=795 072). Risk factors for postpartum wound infections, endometritis and urinary tract infection were evaluated. Paper III included all deliveries (n=841 780) and examined the impact of BMI on the risk of postpartum wound infections, endometritis and breast abscess after different modes of delivery. Infections were defined as the presence of applicable ICD-10 codes. The Mantel-Haenszel technique was used to calculate adjusted odds ratios. In paper IV the association between vitamin D deficiency and overall postpartum infectious morbidity was analyzed. Serum samples from the Pregnancy Biobank in Linköping, drawn at the time of delivery, were used to determine concentrations of 25-hydroxyvitamin D in 1397 women. ICD-10 codes were extracted from the women’s medical records. The prevalence of vitamin D deficiency was calculated and adjusted odds ratios for postpartum infections were estimated with multivariable logistic regression analysis.Results: More than one out of ten women in southeast Sweden reported wound infections; endometritis, urinary tract infection or mastitis postpartum and 7.5% reported antibiotic treatment for infection. Cesarean section was the strongest risk factor for wound infection, followed by obstetric anal sphincter injuries and episiotomy. For endometritis, the strongest risk factors were anemia, manual placental removal and emergency cesarean section. Urinary tract infection was associated with anemia, instrumental vaginal delivery and emergency cesarean section. There was a dose-dependent increased risk of postpartum infection with higher BMI. For morbidly obese women the risk of infection was over 50% higher than for normal weight women. The risk of endometritis after normal vaginal delivery increased the higher the BMI, as did the risk of wound infection after cesarean section, regardless of the type of cesarean section. For breast abscess, there was an inverse association with BMI.Vitamin D deficiency was present among almost 60% of pregnant women at the time of delivery. No association between vitamin D deficiency and postpartum infections was found.Conclusions: Every tenth Swedish woman acquired an infection postpartum and three quarters of them received antibiotics for infection. Anemia was an important risk factor for postpartum infection, and the strongest risk factor for endometritis and urinary tract infection. Strong efforts should be made to reduce blood loss during and after childbirth. This thesis confirmed cesarean section as a major risk factor for postpartum infection, especially wound infection. The risk increased if the woman was overweight or obese, regardless of whether it was a planned or an emergency cesarean section.Vitamin D deficiency was common among Swedish pregnant women, but it was not found to be associated with postpartum infections.
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