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Hot tub birth tied to life-threatening infection for baby

Hot tub birth tied to life-threatening infection for baby
From Reuters - October 23, 2017

(Reuters Health) - A newborn girl in Canada developed a life-threatening infection after being delivered in a hot tub, according to a case report that some doctors say offers fresh evidence that women should not deliver babies in water.

The baby girl was delivered full-term and was healthy at birth. But she was hospitalized at eight days old with high fever, poor feeding and fussiness, and then was moved to the intensive care unit (ICU) because her organs were failing, researchers report in the medical journal CMAJ.

She was diagnosed with sepsis, a life-threatening immune response to an infection with Legionella bacterium that entered her bloodstream. This bacterium thrives in warm water, and the hot tub, which was filled days before her birth, may have created an ideal environment for an infection.

This babys experience serves to highlight a severe and potentially fatal adverse neonatal outcome of underwater birth, especially when prefilled heated pools are used, said lead author Dr. Michelle Barton of Western University in London, Ontario.

Although freshly filling a hot tub may reduce the risk, serious infections can still potentially occur in newborns whose immune systems are quite weak, Barton said by email.

The baby had been born underwater in a hot tub at home, supervised by a midwife. The hot tub had been filled three days before birth, a practice that can lead to increased concentrations of bacteria such as Legionella in the water as it thrives in temperatures from 20 to 42 degrees Celsius (68 to 107.6 degrees Fahrenheit).

After multiple tests, she was started on antibiotics to treat infection and began to improve. She spent five weeks on a ventilator in the ICU before she left the hospital.

The baby might have died, however, if she hadnt been tested for Legionella and given an antibiotic regimen tailored to this diagnosis, Barton said.

Doctors in the U.S. and the UK advise against water birth in hot tubs or pools with jets because of an increased risk of contamination, and they also caution against filling the tubs in advance, researchers note.

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