Detecting Fetal Infections Sooner
Reported February 02, 2009
(Ivanhoe Newswire) — New research may help doctors identify and treat a life-threatening infection that is linked to premature birth, illness and death in order to prevent its devastating effects.
Researchers at the Yale School of Medicine identified proteins associated with the bacterial infection early onset neonatal sepsis (EONS). The scientists said their findings will provide key information about how EONS develops and which infants are at risk for infection.
“We have identified changes that occur in the physiology of the fetus that is exposed to infection and inflammation in the amniotic fluid,” Yale assistant professor Catalin Buhlimschi, M.D., was quoted as saying.
Premature births account for 75 percent of infant mortality and 50 percent of long-term handicaps, including blindness, deafness, developmental delays and cerebral palsy, researchers said. They said not all of these health issues are dependent on the babies’ gestational ages at birth but rather on other processes, such as EONS.
EONS is extremely difficult to diagnose. Currently, at-risk women are given antibiotics before delivery, and at birth, babies are treated with another round of antibiotics. Researchers said these antibiotics can mask the presence of EONS, leading to false negative bacterial culture test results and development of antibiotic resistance.
The Yale findings may lead to earlier identification of EONS so that only babies who need treatment receive antibiotics, Buhlimschi said.
“We hope this research will lead to identifying babies who will develop EONS so that we can prevent its potentially devastating effects,” Buhlimschi said.
SOURCE: Presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine in San Diego, California