2 Cases of Legionnaires’ Disease in Newborns Linked to Water Births

Two babies in Arizona who were delivered via “water birth” recently developed Legionnaires’ disease, a type of bacterial lung infection, just days after they were born, according to a new report.

Both infants recovered after being hospitalized, and the cases were unrelated, the report said. But the health experts who investigated the cases “identified numerous gaps in infection prevention for water births” that may have contributed to the babies’ exposure to the Legionella bacteria that made them sick, they wrote in their report.

In the first case, which occurred in January 2016, the baby was delivered by a midwife into a tub filled with tap water. The tub was cleaned and filled right before the delivery, and the baby did not appear to inhale any of the water during birth, the report said.

But a day later, the baby started to have trouble breathing and was taken to the hospital. The baby was found to have both Legionnaires’ disease and a congenital heart condition that was not related to the infection. Legionella bacteria can grow in water systems, including hot tubs, air conditioners and plumbing systems, according to the report, from researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Maricopa County (Arizona) Department of Public Health.

In the second case, which occurred in April 2016, the baby was born at home in a rented Jacuzzi hot tub with spa jets, the report said. The tub was placed in the mother’s bedroom and was filled with tap water that was heated to 98.0 degrees Fahrenheit (36.7 degrees Celsius). The filled, heated tub sat in the bedroom for about a week before the baby’s delivery. During the birth, the mother first labored outside the tub, and then entered the tub only for the delivery, the report said. The baby did not appear to have inhaled any water during birth, the doctors wrote in the report.

But three days after birth, the baby developed a high fever and was taken to the hospital, where the infant tested positive for Legionella bacteria.

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Source: Live Science

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