Incidence of postpartum infection, outcomes and associated risk factors at Mbarara regional referral hospital in Uganda

Joseph Ngonzi, Lisa M. Bebell, Yarine Fajardo, Adeline A. Boatin, Mark J. Siedner, Ingrid V. Bassett, Yves Jacquemyn, Jean Pierre Van geertruyden, Jerome Kabakyenga, Blair J. Wylie, David R. Bangsberg, Laura E. Riley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


Background: There is a paucity of recent prospective data on the incidence of postpartum infections and associated risk factors in sub-Saharan Africa. Retrospective studies estimate that puerperal sepsis causes approximately 10% of maternal deaths in Africa. Methods: We enrolled 4231 women presenting to a Ugandan regional referral hospital for delivery or postpartum care into a prospective cohort and measured vital signs postpartum. Women developing fever (> 38.0 °C) or hypothermia (< 36.0 °C) underwent symptom questionnaire, structured physical exam, malaria testing, blood, and urine cultures. Demographic, treatment, and post-discharge outcomes data were collected from febrile/hypothermic women and a random sample of 1708 normothermic women. The primary outcome was in-hospital postpartum infection. Multivariable logistic regression was used to determine factors independently associated with postpartum fever/hypothermia and with confirmed infection. Results: Overall, 4176/4231 (99%) had ≥1 temperature measured and 205/4231 (5%) were febrile or hypothermic. An additional 1708 normothermic women were randomly selected for additional data collection, for a total sample size of 1913 participants, 1730 (90%) of whom had complete data. The mean age was 25 years, 214 (12%) were HIV-infected, 874 (51%) delivered by cesarean and 662 (38%) were primigravidae. Among febrile/hypothermic participants, 174/205 (85%) underwent full clinical and microbiological evaluation for infection, and an additional 24 (12%) had a partial evaluation. Overall, 84/4231 (2%) of participants met criteria for one or more in-hospital postpartum infections. Endometritis was the most common, identified in 76/193 (39%) of women evaluated clinically. Twenty-five of 175 (14%) participants with urinalysis and urine culture results met criteria for urinary tract infection. Bloodstream infection was diagnosed in 5/185 (3%) participants with blood culture results. Another 5/186 (3%) tested positive for malaria. Cesarean delivery was independently associated with incident, in-hospital postpartum infection (aOR 3.9, 95% CI 1.5-10.3, P = 0.006), while antenatal clinic attendance was associated with reduced odds (aOR 0.4, 95% CI 0.2-0.9, P = 0.02). There was no difference in in-hospital maternal deaths between the febrile/hypothermic (1, 0.5%) and normothermic groups (0, P = 0.11). Conclusions: Among rural Ugandan women, postpartum infection incidence was low overall, and cesarean delivery was independently associated with postpartum infection while antenatal clinic attendance was protective.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number270
JournalBMC Pregnancy and Childbirth
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 28 2018


  • Africa
  • Incidence
  • Infection
  • Labor
  • Postpartum
  • Pregnant women
  • Puerperal sepsis
  • Resource limited
  • Risk factors
  • Uganda

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Obstetrics and Gynecology


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