Incidence of Postpartum Infection after Vaginal Delivery in Viet Nam

Nguyen T.N. Ngoc, Nancy L. Sloan, Tran S. Thach, Le K.B. Liem, Beverly Winikoff


This study assessed the incidence of postpartum infection which is rarely clinically evaluated and is probably underestimated in developing countries. This prospective study identified infection after vaginal delivery by clinical and laboratory examinations prior to discharge from hospital and again at six weeks postpartum in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam. Textbook definitions, physicians' diagnoses, symptomatic and verbal autopsy definitions were used for classifying infection. Logistic regression was used for determining associations of postpartum infection with socioeconomic and reproductive characteristics. In total, 978 consecutive, eligible consenting women were followed up at 42±7 (range 2-45) days postpartum (not associated with incidence). Ninety-eight percent took 'prophylactic' antibiotics. The most conservative estimate of the incidence of postpartum infection was 1.7%. The incidence of serious infection was 0.5%, but increased to 4.6% when verbal autopsy and symptomatic definitions were used. Postpartum infection, particularly serious infection, is greatly underestimated. Just preventing or treating infection could have a substantial impact on reducing maternal mortality in developing countries.

Key words:   Postpartum infection; Delivery; Safe motherhood; Prospective studies; Viet Nam

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