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Intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis increases the incidence of gram-negative neonatal sepsis.

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  • 1Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology, Illinois Masonic Medical Center, Chicago 60657, USA. Infodoc@immc.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

To investigate the influence of the increased use of intrapartum chemoprophylaxis on the incidence of vertically transmitted neonatal sepsis.

METHODS:

Multiple institutional databases were queried for the number of cases in which intrapartum antibiotics were used, the obstetric risk factors that were present, and the number of resultant cases of neonatal sepsis that occurred for deliveries from 1992 through 1997. Intrapartum antibiotic use was compared between the first and fourth quarter of 1997. Comparisons were made between the years 1992-1996 and 1997 for the incidence of the various pathogens causing neonatal sepsis; group B streptococcus (GBS), gram-negative sepsis, and others.

RESULTS:

We found a significant increase in intrapartum chemoprophylaxis between the first and fourth quarters of 1997 corresponding to the increased physician awareness of published guidelines. As expected, the incidence of neonatal GBS sepsis was drastically reduced (from 1.7/1000 live births to 0 in 3730 births, P = 0.02). Unfortunately, there was a concomitant increase in the incidence of gram-negative sepsis (0.29/1000 vs. 1.3/1000, P = .02). The overall incidence of neonatal sepsis remained unchanged (2.7/1000 vs. 2.1/1000, P = .69).

CONCLUSIONS:

Published guidelines have encouraged physicians to increase the use of intrapartum chemoprophylaxis to reduce vertical transmission of GBS. This study confirms the efficacy of this approach. Unfortunately, this reduction comes at the cost of increasing the incidence of ampicillin-resistant gram-negative neonatal sepsis with a resultant increased mortality. These data provide compelling evidence that the policy of providing ampicillin chemoprophylaxis in selected patients needs to be reconsidered.

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