Cochrane Summaries

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Antibiotics for preterm rupture of membranes

Kenyon S, Boulvain M, Neilson J
Published Online: 
2 December 2013

Certain antibiotics given to women whose waters have broken early will improve babies' health. Babies born too soon are more likely to suffer ill health in the early days and sometimes throughout life. Early labour and birth (before 37 weeks) may be due to undetected infection as well as the waters breaking early. The review of 22 trials, involving 6872 women and their babies, found that, in the short term, certain antibiotics given to women, when their waters break early, increase the time babies stay in the womb. They reduced infection, but did not save more babies. One antibiotic (co-amoxiclav) increased the number of babies with a rare condition of inflammation of the bowel (necrotising enterocolitis). Although, in the longer term (at seven years of age) antibiotics seem to have little effect on the health of children, the short-term advantages are such that we recommend antibiotics should be given routinely.