Use of antibiotics for the treatment of preterm parturition and prevention of neonatal morbidity: a metaanalysis

Am J Obstet Gynecol. 2008 Dec;199(6):620.e1-8. Epub 2008 Oct 30.

Hutzal CE, Boyle EM, Kenyon SL, Nash JV, Winsor S, Taylor DJ, Kirpalani H.

Department of Pediatrics, Faculty of Health Sciences, McMaster University, Hamilton, ON, Canada.

OBJECTIVE: We conducted a metaanalysis to determine whether antibiotics prolong pregnancy and reduce neonatal morbidity in preterm premature rupture of membranes (PPROM) and preterm labor (PTL) at 34 weeks or less. 

STUDY DESIGN: Randomized trials comparing antibiotic therapy with placebo in PPROM or PTL at a gestation of 34 weeks or less were retrieved. The primary outcome was time to delivery (latency). Infant outcomes included mortality, infection, neurological abnormality, respiratory disease, and neonatal stay. 

RESULTS: Antibiotics were associated with prolongation of pregnancy in PPROM (P < .01) but not PTL. Clinically diagnosed neonatal infections were reduced in both groups; there was a trend toward reduced culture-positive sepsis in PPROM. Intraventricular hemorrhage (all grades) was reduced in PPROM. Other neonatal outcomes were unaffected by antenatal antibiotics. 

CONCLUSION: Antibiotics prolong pregnancy and reduce neonatal morbidity in women with PPROM at a gestation of 34 weeks or less. In PTL at a gestation of 34 weeks or less, there is little evidence of benefit from administration of antibiotics.

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