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Prophylactic antibiotics halve the rate of infections after childbirth, study finds

Date: 15 May 2019

Using a single dose of antibiotic to prevent infections after assisted vaginal births would reduce antibiotic use by 17% and halve the rate of infection, according to a new NIHR-funded study published in The Lancet.   

Infection rates after a caesarean birth without antibiotic prophylaxis are estimated at 20-25% and up to 16% after an operative vaginal birth (involving forceps or vacuum extraction). Sepsis causes 11% of maternal deaths globally. For every woman who dies from pregnancy-related infection, 70 more have severe infection and survive often with long-term health consequences.

The use of antibiotics during birth by caesarean section is widely recommended but current World Health Organization and national guidelines, recognising the importance of antibiotic stewardship, do not recommend routine antibiotic prophylaxis for operative vaginal birth.

The ANODE (prophylactic ANtibiotics for the prevention of infection following Operative DElivery) study, investigated whether a single dose of antibiotic prevented maternal infection after operative vaginal birth.

The trial involved 3,427 women across the UK, including 175 at Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 79 at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and 62 at Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust. 

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  • Summary:
    Using a single dose of antibiotic to prevent infections after assisted vaginal births would reduce antibiotic use by 17% and halve the rate of infection, according to a new NIHR-funded study.
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  • LCRN:
    Thames Valley and South Midlands
  • Year of publication:
    2019
  • Specialty:
    Reproductive Health and Childbirth
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