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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Infectious Diseases - Obstetrics - Public Health and Epidemiology

Presence of Antibodies Against Coxiella burnetii and Risk of Spontaneous Abortion: A Nested Case-Control Study
Published: Tuesday, February 21, 2012
Author: Stine Yde Nielsen et al.

by Stine Yde Nielsen, Niels Henrik Hjøllund, Anne-Marie Nybo Andersen, Tine Brink Henriksen, Bjørn Kantsø, Karen Angeliki Krogfelt, Kåre Mølbak

Background and Aims

Q fever is a bacterial zoonosis caused by infection with Coxiella burnetii. It is well established that Q fever causes fetal loss in small ruminants. The suspicion has been raised that pregnant women may also experience adverse pregnancy outcome when the infection is acquired or reactivated during pregnancy. The purpose of this study was to assess the potential association between serologic markers of infection with C.burnetii and spontaneous abortion.

Methods

A nested case-control study within the Danish National Birth Cohort, a cohort of 100,418 pregnancies recruited from 1996–2002. Women were recruited in first trimester of pregnancy and followed prospectively. Median gestational age at enrolment was 8 weeks (25 and 75 percentiles: 7 weeks; 10 weeks). During pregnancy, a blood sample was collected at gestational week 6–12 and stored in a bio bank. For this study, a case sample of 218 pregnancies was drawn randomly among the pregnancies in the cohort which ended with a miscarriage before 22 gestational weeks, and a reference group of 482 pregnancies was selected in a random fashion among all pregnancies in the cohort. From these pregnancies, serum samples were screened for antibodies against C. burnetii in a commercial enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Samples that proved IgG or IgM antibody positive were subsequently confirmatory tested by an immunofluorescence (IFA) test.

Results

Among cases, 11 (5%) were C. burnetii positive in ELISA of which one was confirmed in the IFA assay compared to 29 (6%) ELISA positive and 3 IFA confirmed in the random sample.

Conclusions

We found no evidence of a higher prevalence of C.burnetii antibodies in serum samples from women who later miscarried and the present study does not indicate a major association between Q fever infection and spontaneous abortion in humans. Very early first trimester abortions were, however, not included in the study.

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