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Am J Perinatol. 2004 May;21(4):173-82.

Tetanus in pregnancy.

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Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas, Texas 75390-9032, USA.


Tetanus remains a leading cause of maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in developing countries. It is caused by the release of two toxins produced by Clostridium tetani, a noninvasive gram-positive anaerobic bacillus. Tetanospasmin is taken up by the neuronal end plates and prevents neurotransmitter release at the synaptic junction. This leads to spasms and is irreversible. Recovery requires the formation of new neurons and may take months. Generalized muscle spasm, respiratory compromise, and autonomic dysfunction are all common clinical manifestations. Diagnosis is based mainly on history and clinical examination. The management of the pregnant woman is similar to the nonpregnant individual. The main objectives are prompt prevention of further toxin absorption, wound debridement, antibiotic therapy, and aggressive supportive care. Primary and secondary prevention protocols are important worldwide because tetanus is a preventable disease. The tetanus toxoid vaccine can be given in pregnancy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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