The study involved 136,459 women who delivered at Parkland Memorial Hospital between 1997 and 2005. Of those, 127 were hospitalized with mastitis, which tends to strike younger women having their first child.
The researchers found that about 59 percent of the women with both mastitis and abscesses had MRSA, while only 2 percent of women with mastitis alone had MRSA. Because the study tracked women who had been hospitalized, there is no way to know whether this proportion is the same in women treated for mastitis on an outpatient basis, Dr. Wendel said.
MRSA is resistant to many antibiotics, but the researchers found that even in cases when the exact cause of the mastitis or abscess had not yet been determined, and the women initially received antibiotics that don't affect MRSA, all eventually recovered completely.
During the study, when tests showed that a woman had MRSA, she was switched to vancomycin, an antibiotic effective against it.
About 2 percent to 10 percent of all nursing mothers develop some sort of breast inflammation such as mastitis, the researchers said. Symptoms of mastitis include unexplained fever and deep soreness or swelling in one breast but not the other.
In contrast to mastitis, an abscess is caused by a localized infection, which causes pain in a specific area that can feel hot to the touch and appear red on the skin.
"Women should seek medical care if they have any symptoms or concerns for breast infections," said Dr. Irene Stafford, resident in obstetrics and gynecology and lead author of the study.
|Contact: Aline McKenzie|
UT Southwestern Medical Center