What are the risks of MRSA during pregnancy?

Little evidence is available about the risks of MRSA during pregnancy. However, MRSA does not usually harm healthy people, including pregnant women, children and babies.

If you’re pregnant and have any concerns about MRSA, you can get advice from your midwife or GP. You can also call NHS Direct on 0845 4647.

Carrying MRSA 

Some people carry MRSA on their skin or in their nostrils without developing an infection. Some may carry MRSA for a few hours or days, while others carry it for weeks or months.

People may not know that they’re carrying MRSA because it doesn’t harm them and they have no symptoms, unlike people who are infected with MRSA.

There is no evidence to suggest that carrying MRSA during pregnancy can cause miscarriage or harm the unborn baby.

MRSA infection

MRSA can cause infection when it gets an opportunity to enter the body, for example through a break in the skin. MRSA infections are most common in people who are already in hospital because people who are ill are more vulnerable to infections.

MRSA infections in pregnant women are rare. If a pregnant woman does become infected with MRSA, her symptoms will be treated. It is possible for an MRSA infection to pass from the mother to the baby during childbirth but this is also rare. It can happen if there is a wound infected with MRSA in her perineum (the area between the vagina and the anus).

If a newborn baby is infected with MRSA, the infection can be treated in hospital in a special care unit.

Screening for MRSA

Pregnant women in the UK are not routinely screened for MRSA. However, screening may be recommended:

  • before a planned caesarean, or
  • where there is a high risk of complications for the mother or baby, for example if the baby is likely to need treatment in a special care unit.

Screening may also be recommended in other cases, for example if a woman has stayed in hospital during the previous three months.


NHS Choices

Published Date 2010-07-23

Last Review Date 2009-09-21

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