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Maternal Sepsis is an Evolving Challenge

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Turner, M.J. (2019), Maternal sepsis is an evolving challenge. Int J Gynecol Obstet, 146: 39-42. https://doi.org/10.1002/ijgo.12833

Despite major advances in the last century, particularly in high resource settings, maternal sepsis remains a common and potentially preventable cause of direct maternal death globally. A barrier to further progress has been the lack of consensus on the definition of maternal sepsis. Publications from two recent multidisciplinary consensus conferences, one on sepsis in the non-pregnant adult and the other on sepsis in the pregnant woman, concluded that the criteria for diagnosing sepsis should be clinically-based, applicable at the bedside, and should not be laboratory-based. Informed by reviews of the evidence, in 2017 WHO published a new definition of maternal sepsis based on the presence of suspected or confirmed infection. It also announced a Global Maternal and Neonatal Sepsis Initiative to identify the diagnostic criteria for the early identification, epidemiology, and disease classification of maternal sepsis. Standardizing the criteria for maternal sepsis optimizes clinical audit and research. It may facilitate the evaluation of the role of different clinical parameters and biomarkers in the diagnosis, earlier recognition and management of maternal infection and sepsis. Further work is required to develop an international consensus on the criteria for diagnosing maternal sepsis and any associated organ dysfunction.

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