The risk of tuberculosis diagnosis is significantly increased in women during the first six months after pregnancy according to a new-UK wide study by the Health Protection Agency and University of East Anglia.

Researchers looked at data for over 250,000 pregnancies between 1996 and 2008 before calculating the rate of TB among pregnant and post-natal women as 15.4 per 100,000 compared to 9.1 in other women.

Study author Dr Dominik Zenner said: : "Although we found a significantly increased risk of TB in the six months following pregnancy, but not during pregnancy, the risk during pregnancy is nonetheless likely to be increased.

"This is in keeping with the observation that pregnant women are disproportionally affected by other respiratory illnesses such as flu. We hope these findings will encourage those looking after pregnant women to consider possible TB infection in women presenting with symptoms to avoid delays in diagnosis."

Latest HPA figures recently showed the number of new cases of TB in the UK hit 8,483 last year and is often particularly spread in winter months by coughing and sneezing.

Head of TB surveillance at the HPA Professor Ibrahim Abubakar hopes this study provides a valuable reminder for midwives and other healthcare workers to look out for the syptoms of TB.

"Those looking after pregnant and post natal women should [always] look out for symptoms of the disease, particularly among women in high risk groups such as immigrants, as early diagnosis and appropriate treatment is essential. TB is a preventable and treatable condition but, if left untreated, can be life threatening," he said.

 pregcough Picture posed by model 

Full details of the study are available at www.thoracic.org
Posted on 12/12/2011 by richard.hook@pavpub.com