Bacterial meningitis in pregnancy: report of six cases and review of the literature


Corresponding author: D. van de Beek, Department of Neurology H2, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, PO Box 22660, 1100 DD Amsterdam, the Netherlands


Clin Microbiol Infect 2012; 18: 345–351


Few cases of bacterial meningitis during pregnancy have been reported in the literature, and the causative microorganisms and prognosis of bacterial meningitis during pregnancy are unclear. In a 6-year period we identified six cases of bacterial meningitis in pregnant women. All were multigravida and gestational age at presentation ranged from 5 to 39 weeks. Predisposing factors were present in five patients and consisted of otitis in four patients. The causative organism was Streptococcus pneumoniae in all patients. Two patients died, both due to florid septic shock and brain herniation. Foetal outcome was good in five cases; one woman had a miscarriage 3 weeks after the episode of bacterial meningitis. We reviewed the literature on bacterial meningitis during pregnancy and identified 42 cases of bacterial meningitis. Twenty-five of these patients had pneumococcal meningitis and seven had meningitis caused by L. monocytogenes. We found that pneumococcal meningitis during pregnancy can be rapidly fatal and is associated with foetal death, especially in the first trimester. L. monocytogenes meningitis was associated with a high rate of neonatal deaths.