Pneumonia in pregnancy

Crit Care Med. 2005 Oct;33(10 Suppl):S390-7. doi: 10.1097/01.ccm.0000182483.24836.66.


Objective: Historically, pneumonia during pregnancy has been associated with increased morbidity and mortality compared with nonpregnant women. The goal of this article is to review current literature describing pneumonia in pregnancy. This review will identify maternal risk factors, potential complications, and prenatal outcomes associated with pneumonia and describe the contemporary management of the varied causes of pneumonia in pregnancy.

Results: Coexisting maternal disease, including asthma and anemia, increase the risk of contracting pneumonia in pregnancy. Neonatal effects of pneumonia in pregnancy include low birth weight and increased risk of preterm birth, and serious maternal complications include respiratory failure. Community-acquired pneumonia is the most common form of pneumonia in pregnancy, with Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, and Mycoplasma pneumoniae accounting for most identified bacterial organisms. Beta-lactam and macrolide antibiotics are considered safe in pregnancy and are effective for most community-acquired pneumonia in pregnancy. Viral respiratory infections, including varicella, influenza, and severe acute respiratory syndrome, can be associated with maternal pneumonia. Current antiviral and respiratory therapies can reduce maternal morbidity and mortality from viral pneumonia. Influenza vaccination can reduce the prevalence of respiratory hospitalizations among pregnant women during influenza season. Pneumocystis pneumonia continues to carry significant maternal risk to an immunocompromised population. Prevention and treatment of Pneumocystis pneumonia with trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole is effective in reducing this risk.

Conclusions: Prompt diagnosis and treatment with contemporary antimicrobial therapy and intensive care unit management of respiratory compromise has reduced the maternal morbidity and mortality due to pneumonia in pregnancy. Prevention with vaccination in at-risk populations may reduce the prevalence and severity of pneumonia in pregnant women.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Community-Acquired Infections / physiopathology
  • Community-Acquired Infections / prevention & control
  • Community-Acquired Infections / therapy
  • Critical Care
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunocompromised Host
  • Mycoses / physiopathology
  • Mycoses / prevention & control
  • Mycoses / therapy
  • Pneumonia* / physiopathology
  • Pneumonia* / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia* / therapy
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / physiopathology
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Bacterial / therapy
  • Pneumonia, Viral / physiopathology
  • Pneumonia, Viral / prevention & control
  • Pneumonia, Viral / therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / physiopathology
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / prevention & control
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious* / therapy
  • Vaccination


  • Anti-Infective Agents