London - New mothers who have an assisted birth should all be given antibiotics to halve their risk of sepsis, a major study has found.
Giving women a preventative dose of antibiotics as a matter of course would cut maternal infections by 7 000 a year in the UK, research shows.
Experts said the World Health Organisation should update their guidelines so women routinely receive antibiotics if they have an assisted vaginal birth. This is when forceps or a vacuum device called a ventouse suction cup are used to help deliver the baby.
Only one in ten women developed an infection if they were given antibiotics straight after childbirth, scientists at the University of Oxford found.
The study, published in The Lancet, looked at 3 420 women who gave birth in 27 UK hospitals.
They were split into two groups, with the first given a single dose of intravenous amoxicillin, a type of penicillin, within six hours of the birth. The rest were given a placebo.
Data showed that infections halved among the group who received antibiotics, and cases of sepsis reduced by 56 percent. Only 11 percent of the 1 619 women who received amoxicillin got an infection, compared to 19 percent of the 1 606 women in the placebo group.
There were 11 cases of sepsis in the antibiotic group compared with 25 cases in the placebo group.
Sepsis is a violent immune response which attacks the body’s major organs.
The study also found that giving new mothers a preventative dose of penicillin caused the overall use of antibiotics to drop by 17 percent because fewer developed infections that required repeated doses.Daily Mail