A friend of mine is in a difficult situation currently. She is excitedly pregnant with her first child, but her elderly father is in the hospital after a severe heart attack. If that wasn’t difficult enough for her, she also just found this weekend that he has MRSA. MRSA stands for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. It is a type of staph infection that commonly spreads in hospitals or nursing homes. People with compromised immune systems are most at risk for contracting it through skin contact. It can be very dangerous and even fatal for people who are already ill. So, when my friend found out that her father had contracted it in the hospital, she assumed she would no longer be able to visit him without seriously risking her own health and that of her developing baby.

Incredibly, doctors said it was okay for her to keep paying her father visits in the hospital despite the infection. I decided to research the topic more, because she expressed her concern about contracting the infection. It is actually surprisingly difficult for a healthy adult to contract, and though pregnancy compromises the immune system slightly, she was still protected. Doctors advised her to wear a mask temporarily to stay safe, and also reminded her to wash her hands after making contact with her father. Also, she had to let the doctors know if there were any open wounds on her skin.

Even if a pregnant woman contracts MRSA in her pregnancy, it’s easy to treat. Antibiotics will cure most cases, and they’re safe for a developing baby to be exposed to. A baby will only get the infection if he comes into contact with it through vaginal delivery. Many women must be screened for MRSA when they need a C-section because hospitals must screen every surgery patient for the infection prior to the operation. The spread of MRSA is easy in the medical environment.

Even if you know someone with MRSA during your pregnancy, you don’t have to be too worried about it. Only if your immune system is severely compromised should you avoid contact. If your baby does contract the infection, a severe problem is extremely rare. In most cases, doctors will be able to treat it quickly and swiftly without any problems. Being concerned about your health during pregnancy is a natural feeling, but not every serious infection will pose a problem.

Source: Richard Beigi: Clinical Implications of MRSA in Pregnancy. Current Opinion in Obstetrics and Gynecology Volume 23 Issue 2 pp. 82-86 April 2011

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