Pregnancy increases TB risk

Women face an increased risk of being diagnosed with tuberculosis during and immediately after pregnancy, a new study has revealed.

The study by researchers from the U.K. Health Protection Agency and the University of East Anglia analyzed data from women in the United Kingdom between 1996 and 2008. The results of the study were published in the American Journal of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine, according to

A total of 192,801 women who had a total of 264,136 pregnancies during the 12 year period were included. During this period, 177 cases of TB were recorded among the group.

The researchers found that the TB rate among pregnant and post-natal women was 15.4 per 100,000 people, which is significantly higher than the rate outside of pregnancy, which is 9.1 per 100,000 people.

Ibrahim Abubakar, the study’s lead author, is the head of TB surveillance at the HPA and a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of East Anglia.

“This study clearly shows that future guidance to healthcare workers, especially midwives and health visitors, should take into account that the risk of TB may be increased during pregnancy or shortly after giving birth,” Abubakar said, reports. “Those looking after pregnant and post natal women should be encouraged to look out for the signs and symptoms of the disease, particularly among women in high risk groups such as immigrants from countries with a high burden of TB, as early diagnosis and appropriate treatment is essential. TB is a preventable and treatable condition but, if left untreated, can be life threatening.”