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What are the risks of MRSA during pregnancy?

MRSA germs (or bacteria) don't usually harm healthy people, including pregnant women, babies and children.

Little research has been done on the effects of MRSA during pregnancy. However, there is no evidence that carrying MRSA germs during pregnancy can cause miscarriage or harm the unborn baby.

What does 'carrying MRSA' mean?

Some people carry MRSA germs on their skin or in their nose without developing an MRSA infection. They may not know that they're carrying MRSA because they have no symptoms and it doesn't harm them. This is known as being colonised with MRSA.

MRSA infection and screening

MRSA infection happens when the bacteria get into the body through a break in the skin. It's most common in people in hospital. This can happen after a caesarean section if the wound becomes infected.

MRSA in pregnant women is not common.

To check if they're carrying MRSA, patients going into hospital for a planned operation are offered screening with a simple swab test. If the test is positive, treatment will be offered.

MRSA screening is also carried out for emergency admissions to hospital.

Screening for MRSA during pregnancy

Pregnant women aren't routinely offered screening for MRSA as part of their antenatal care. However, screening may be offered in some circumstances. For example, if the woman: 

  • is booked in for an elective caesarean section (not all hospitals do this; so always let your healthcare team know if you've had MRSA in the past)
  • has previously been infected with MRSA
  • has any wounds
  • has a urinary catheter

Whether screening is offered may vary, depending on the hospital's policy. Babies are not routinely screened for MRSA. However, if your baby is admitted to a neonatal unit, they will be screened for MRSA, and the parents may be screened if the baby has MRSA.

Treating MRSA colonisation

If screening shows that you're carrying MRSA, you will be offered treatment to suppress (reduce) or get rid of the bacteria.

Read more information about MRSA, including treatment for people who are carrying MRSA.

Babies who are carrying MRSA can also be treated, although some will not need treatment.

Treating MRSA infection

If a pregnant woman becomes infected with MRSA, her symptoms can be treated with antibiotics.

It's possible for a mother to pass MRSA to her baby during a vaginal birth. MRSA can also be passed on from other babies in the hospital if they're carrying it.

If a baby develops an MRSA infection, it can be treated. Serious infections in babies caused by MRSA are rare.

Getting advice

If you're pregnant and have any concerns about MRSA, you can get advice from your midwife or GP.

Read the answers to more questions about pregnancy.

Further information