Association of common maternal infections with birth outcomes: a multinational cohort study

Jian Rong He*, Gabriella Tikellis, Ora Paltiel, Mark Klebanoff, Per Magnus, Kate Northstone, Jean Golding, Mary H. Ward, Martha S. Linet, Sjurdur F. Olsen, Gary S. Phillips, Stanley Lemeshow, Xiu Qiu, Jane E. Hirst, Terence Dwyer

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: It is unclear whether common maternal infections during pregnancy are risk factors for adverse birth outcomes. We assessed the association between self-reported infections during pregnancy with preterm birth and small-for-gestational-age (SGA) in an international cohort consortium. Methods: Data on 120,507 pregnant women were obtained from six population-based birth cohorts in Australia, Denmark, Israel, Norway, the UK and the USA. Self-reported common infections during pregnancy included influenza-like illness, common cold, any respiratory tract infection, vaginal thrush, vaginal infections, cystitis, urinary tract infection, and the symptoms fever and diarrhoea. Birth outcomes included preterm birth, low birth weight and SGA. Associations between maternal infections and birth outcomes were first assessed using Poisson regression in each cohort and then pooled using random-effect meta-analysis. Risk ratios (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were calculated, adjusted for potential confounders. Results: Vaginal infections (pooled RR, 1.10; 95% CI, 1.02–1.20) and urinary tract infections (pooled RR, 1.17; 95% CI, 1.09–1.26) during pregnancy were associated with higher risk of preterm birth. Similar associations with low birth weight were also observed for these two infections. Fever during pregnancy was associated with higher risk of SGA (pooled RR, 1.07; 95% CI, 1.02–1.12). No other significant associations were observed between maternal infections/symptoms and birth outcomes. Conclusion: Vaginal infections and urinary infections during pregnancy were associated with a small increased risk of preterm birth and low birth weight, whereas fever was associated with SGA. These findings require confirmation in future studies with laboratory-confirmed infection diagnosis.

Original languageAmerican English
StateAccepted/In press - 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© Springer-Verlag GmbH Germany, part of Springer Nature 2024.


  • Cohort study
  • Fetal growth
  • Maternal infection
  • Preterm birth


Dive into the research topics of 'Association of common maternal infections with birth outcomes: a multinational cohort study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this