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.