The risks associated with methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) during pregnancy vary, depending on the specifics of the case. In some cases, the risks may be very low, while in others, there are some concerns about the safety of the mother and developing fetus. Patients diagnosed with MRSA during pregnancy should discuss the diagnosis and its implications with their physicians and may want to consult an obstetrician who specializes in high risk pregnancies to see if there are any particular concerns.
Many people carry MRSA, but do not have active infections. In people with healthy immune systems, the bacterium carries minimal risks, and the same holds true for pregnant women. However, if a woman's immune system is not healthy and she develops an active MRSA infection, it can be a cause for concern. There is also a risk of passing MRSA to the newborn during delivery, in which case the baby will need special care immediately after birth.
Another concern with MRSA during pregnancy is antibiotics used to treat it. The mother may have a negative reaction to the antibiotics, which could endanger the pregnancy, and the risks associated with some antibiotics during pregnancy are not known. Doctors will start with drugs known to be safe for developing fetuses and will monitor the mother closely through the course of treatment, in the hopes that the MRSA will respond to these medications and not require additional treatment.
MRSA during pregnancy can often come with very low risks, especially for patients who are closely supervised and given appropriate prenatal care. Women can be checked for signs of spreading or developing infections and the health of the fetus can be monitored with ultrasound and other techniques. People diagnosed with MRSA during pregnancy may also need to be put on MRSA precautions during delivery, to avoid spreading the bacterium to other occupants of a hospital or birthing center. Special care may be taken during delivery and the baby will be tested for MRSA to see if treatment is needed.
Every pregnancy, body, and patient is slightly different. A doctor can thoroughly evaluate a patient and consider her medical history and current level of health to identify risks of MRSA during pregnancy in specific cases. Patients concerned about the risks can discuss options for management of the MRSA, as well as safety during labor and delivery for the infant, and care providers present in the delivery area. Patients may find it helpful to work with an obstetrician who has experience in delivering babies to mothers diagnosed with MRSA.