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Deaths Linked to Undiagnosed Infection in Young Women

Last Updated: December 07, 2009.

Undiagnosed Clostridium infection is associated with toxic shock deaths in women of childbearing age who have undergone various obstetrical or gynecological procedures, according to a study in the November issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

MONDAY, Dec. 7 (HealthDay News) -- Undiagnosed Clostridium infection is associated with toxic shock deaths in women of childbearing age who have undergone various obstetrical or gynecological procedures, according to a study in the November issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

Christine S. Ho, M.D., from the California Emerging Infections Program in Oakland, and colleagues reviewed death certificates and identified 38 women suspected of having Clostridium-associated deaths based on clinical characteristics.

The researchers found that autopsy or surgical tissue from five women tested positive for Clostridium, of which three were positive for Clostridium perfringens, one was positive for Clostridium sordellii, and one was positive for both. The deaths occurred after cervical dysplasia, surgical abortion, stillborn delivery, and term live birth, but not medical abortion.

"Our retrospective study shows that C. sordellii and C. perfringens are associated with undiagnosed catastrophic infectious gynecologic illnesses among women of childbearing age who are either peripartum or have had recent cervical instrumentation," Ho and colleagues conclude.

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