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Am J Obstet Gynecol. 1993 Oct;169(4):764-74.

Antibiotic treatment of preterm labor with intact membranes: a multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial.

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Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut.



Although an association between subclinical intrauterine infection and preterm birth is well established, there is conflicting evidence regarding the benefits of antibiotic administration to women in preterm labor with intact membranes. We attempted to determine the effect of ampicillin-amoxicillin and erythromycin treatment on prolongation of pregnancy, the rate of preterm birth, and neonatal morbidity in patients with preterm labor and intact membranes.


A multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, placebo-controlled trial was designed and implemented by the Maternal-Fetal Medicine Units Network of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Two hundred seventy-seven women with singleton pregnancies and preterm labor with intact membranes (24 to 34 weeks) were randomly allocated to receive either antibiotics or placebos.


Of the 2373 patients screened for participation in this study in six medical centers, 277 women were enrolled (n = 133 for antibiotics group vs n = 144 for placebo group). In each study group, 60% of patients completed all the study medications. The overall prevalence of microbial invasion of the amniotic cavity was 5.8% (14/239). No significant difference between the antibiotic group and the placebo group was found in maternal outcomes, including duration of randomization-to-delivery interval, frequency of preterm delivery (< 37 weeks), frequency of preterm premature rupture of membranes, clinical chorioamnionitis, endometritis, and number of subsequent admissions for preterm labor. Similarly, no significant difference in neonatal outcomes could be detected between the two groups including respiratory distress syndrome, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, intraventricular hemorrhage, sepsis, and admission and duration of newborn intensive special care unit hospitalization.


The results of this study do not support the routine use of antibiotic administration to women in preterm labor with intact membranes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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