Treatment of community-acquired lower respiratory tract infections during pregnancy.Am J Respir Med. 2003; 2(3):221-33.AJ
The incidence of lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) in women of child-bearing age is approximately 64 per 1000 population. The spectrum of illness ranges from acute bronchitis, which is very common, through influenza virus infection and exacerbations of underlying lung disease, to pneumonia, which, fortunately is uncommon (<1.5% LRTI), but can be severe. Acute bronchitis is generally mild, self-limiting and usually does not require antibacterial therapy. Influenza virus infection in pregnant women has been recently related to increased hospitalization for acute cardiorespiratory conditions. At present, the safety of the newer neuraminidase inhibitors for the treatment of influenza virus infection has not been established in pregnancy and they are not routinely recommended. In influenza virus infection complicated by pneumonia, antibacterial agents active against Staphylococcus aureus and Streptococcus pneumoniae superinfection should be used. There are few data on infective complications of asthma or COPD in pregnancy. The latter is rare, as patients with COPD are usually male and aged over 45 years. Management is the same as for nonpregnant patients. The incidence and mortality of pneumonia in pregnancy is similar to that in nonpregnant patients. Infants born to pregnant patients with pneumonia have been found to be born earlier and weigh less than controls. Risk factors for the development of pneumonia include anemia, asthma and use of antepartum corticosteroids and tocolytic agents. Based on the few available studies, the main pathogens causing pneumonia are S. pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Mycoplasma pneumoniae and viruses. Beta-Lactam and macrolide antibiotics therefore remain the antibiotics of choice in terms of both pathogen coverage and safety in pregnancy. In HIV-infected pregnant patients, recurrent bacterial pneumonia, but not Pneumocystis carinii pneumonia (PCP), is more common than in nonpregnant patients. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole (cotrimoxazole) has not definitely been associated with adverse clinical outcomes despite theoretical risks. Currently it is still the treatment of choice in PCP, where mortality remains high. In conclusion, there are few data specifically related to pregnant women with different types of LRTI. Where data are available, no significant differences compared with nonpregnant patients have been identified. In considering the use of any therapeutic agent or investigation in pregnant patients with LRTI, safety aspects must be carefully weighed against potential benefit. Otherwise, management strategies should not differ from those for nonpregnant patients. Further research in this area is warranted.