Birthing Pool Death Linked To Legionnaires disease
Birthing pool safety has been called into question by Texas health investigators following a baby’s death from Legionnaires’ disease.
A new report from investigators at the Texas Department of State Health Services has revealed that an infant died a few weeks after being born at home in a heated birthing pool.
The baby’s death, which occurred in January 2014 is the very first documented case of legionella bacteria infection being linked with water births in the USA, although it is thought that there could be several more cases that have gone unreported.
It comes just months after similar cases of legionella infections linked to birthing pools were reported in both the UK and France.
Public Health England and NHS England
In June 2014, Public Health England and NHS England issued a statement advising a temporary suspension of home heated birthing pools that have built in heaters and recirculation pumps.
This followed a single incidence of a baby being born in this type of pool at home that went on to develop Legionnaires’ disease.
Samples that were taken from the pool confirmed the presence of legionella bacteria, the cause of Legionnaires’ disease.
The alert excludes the majority of birthing pools at home as these are generally filled from domestic hot water systems.
Because the water is not stored in heaters and pumps for up to two weeks before use, the majority of birthing pools are considered safe to use, as long as the pumps are used to empty the pool and not to recirculate or store water.
Texas Department of State Health Services
In the Texas case, following extensive tests by Texan public health officials, no legionella bacteria was found in the pool, but by the time it was tested, it had already been cleaned and disinfected.
However, because there were no other particular risk factors identified, and legionella is pretty ubiquitous in the environment, it is reasonable to track the source of infection back to the type of birthing pool used.
As the popularity of water births increases, this recent death illustrates the potential risks of waterborne pathogens to infants that are born in water.
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