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Infectious Disease Study Findings Presented By University Of Pittsburgh Scientists

HYANNIS, Mass., August 7, 2003 Clinical and basic science findings of several studies are being presented by University of Pittsburgh and Magee-Womens Research Institute  scientists at a meeting of the Infectious Diseases Society for Obstetrics and Gynecology (IDSOG). Scientific sessions take place Aug. 7 to 9 at the Cape Codder Resort in Hyannis, Mass. Findings include the following:

Potentially deadly parvovirus infection during pregnancy often has no symptoms

Potentially deadly parvovirus infection during pregnancy often has no symptoms, reports Hyagriv Simhan, M.D., assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In healthy adults, parvovirus is more of a nuisance, and can cause flu-like symptoms that are similar to the common cold. In children, it is more likely to be characterized by a slapped face appearing rash on the cheeks. But for the developing fetus, parvovirus infection can be a contributing factor in heart failure and death. This is contrary to the little research previously published on the subject, which indicates that a majority of women have symptoms.

Dr. Simhan and his colleagues studied cases of 25 pregnant women found to be infected with parvovirus B19 between 1998 and 2001 at Magee-Womens Hospital of the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. Of these, only 16 percent exhibited any symptoms themselves, said Dr. Simhan, who also is an assistant investigator at the Magee-Womens Research Institute. The vast majority of women were diagnosed because their older, school-age children showed signs of infection. In the study group, there were three cases (12 percent) of fetal heart failure and four cases (16 percent) of fetal death.

So far this year, we have seen 15 cases of parvovirus infection in pregnant women, said Dr. Simhan. This is a more common problem than many people realize.

Because there is no vaccine available, current practice involves counseling and close monitoring of high-risk patients, which includes anyone who has school-age children and those who work with children such as teachers and day-care providers.

These findings are being presented beginning at 1:45 p.m., Thursday, Aug. 7.

Even mild pelvic inflammatory disease can impair fertility

Even mild pelvic inflammatory disease (PID) can impair fertility, reports a team led by Harold Wiesenfeld, M.D., associate professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive sciences at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. In a study of 767 women at high risk for PID, Dr. Wiesenfeld and his colleagues found that those with subclinical (undetectable by clinical tests) PID were twice as likely to have infertility problems as those who did not have PID.

Previous studies have shown that 25 percent of women who have chlamydia or gonorrhea, and 15 percent of women who have bacterial vaginosis, also have subclinical PID, said Dr. Wiesenfeld, who also is an assistant investigator at the Magee-Womens Research Institute. Given the vast number of women who have lower genital tract infections, our findings reveal that a substantial number of reproductive-aged women are at risk for infertility.

These findings are being presented beginning at 10:15 a.m., Friday, Aug. 8.

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