Lily Allen, Miscarriage, and the Battle of Septicemia

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Lily Allen, the popular 25-year-old singer who recently suffered a miscarriage six months into her pregnancy, has been hospitalized for septicemia. According to the Daily Mail, Ms. Allen “is responding well to treatment and her condition continues to improve.”

Obstetricians monitor for signs of septicemia during pregnancy

The term “septicemia” is often used interchangeably with “blood poisoning” and “sepsis.” (Blood poisoning is not a medical term.) During pregnancy, a woman’s obstetrician monitors both the pregnant woman and her fetus for any signs or symptoms that might suggest sepsis.

At a woman’s initial OB visit she is typically screened for infectious diseases, such as hepatitis B, Chlamydia, and herpes, along with immunity to rubella and chickenpox. Screening for group B strep is typically done between weeks 35 and 37. Slower than anticipated fetal growth may be an indication of a threat to the infant, as well as fluctuations in heart rate. Maternal fever warrants a thorough evaluation.

Signs and symptoms of septicemia include fever or abnormally low body temperature, chills, elevated heart rate, abnormal white blood cell count, and increased respiratory rate. Symptoms can progress rapidly to shock (septic shock), mental confusion, and blood clotting problems.

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Most cases of septicemia are caused by bacterial infections that begin infecting an organ and then spread into the bloodstream, which allows the infection to become systemic and damage nearly any other organ system. Treatment includes immediate hospitalization so intravenous antibiotics, usually a combination of two or three given simultaneously, can be administered. Therapies to support and protect the organs, such as draining fluids, also may be necessary.

The prognosis of individuals with septicemia is related to the severity of the condition and the patients’ overall health status. Patients who have no organ failure when they are diagnosed have about a 15 to 30 percent chance of death. Among those who have progressed to septic shock, the mortality rate is 40 to 60 percent.

Complications may occur and are usually related to the type of initial infection and the severity of septicemia. Generally, the faster patients are diagnosed and treated, the better the prognosis and fewer complications, if any, for patients.

According to the Daily Mail, Ms. Allen “is in the best place and luckily she was admitted quickly.” Lily Allen had a miscarriage in 2008 when she was dating Ed Simons, a pop star. She was expecting a baby with boyfriend Sam Cooper when she suffered this second miscarriage.

SOURCES:
Daily Mail
MedicineNet

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