Many nursing mothers who have been hospitalized for breast abscesses and then suffer from methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA.
The study focused on hospitalized women with mastitis, and showed that community-associated MRSA was much more likely to be found in those who had both mastitis -- an inflammation of the milk glands -- and abscesses -- pockets of infection.
The study was designed to determine how mastitis with and without abscess formation responded to different antibiotic treatment. Most cases are caused by bacterial infections, generally by S aureus, or "staph."
There are many strains of staph, one of which is MRSA.
"The take-home message is that not every patient with mastitis necessarily needs an antibiotic against MRSA," lead author Dr. Irene Stafford of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center said in a statement. "She will improve with a less specific antibiotic as long as she also empties her breasts, either through feeding or pumping, and if there's an abscess, gets it treated."
The study is published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.