HealthDay News — Administration of azithromycin during labor is associated with a reduction in maternal and neonatal clinical infections, according to a study published online January 27 in Pediatrics.

Claire Oluwalana, MD, from the Medical Research Council Unit in Banjul, the Gambia, and colleagues conducted a randomized trial involving 829 Gambian women in labor. Participants were given an oral dose of azithromycin or placebo and were followed for up to eight weeks after delivery. 

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Eight infants died per arm during the follow-up period. There were no reports of maternal deaths or serious adverse events related to the intervention. The researchers found that the azithromycin group had a significantly lower incidence of maternal infections (3.6 versus 9.2%; relative risk [RR], 0.40; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.22 to 0.71; P=0.002) and significantly lower prevalence of mastitis (1.4 versus 5.1%; RR, 0.29; 95 percent CI, 0.12 to 0.70; P=0.005) and fever (1.9 versus 5.8%; RR, 0.33; 95% CI, 0.15 to 0.74; P=0.006). In the azithromycin group, newborns had a lower overall prevalence of infections (18.1 versus 23.8%; RR, 0.76; 95% CI, 0.58 to 0.99; P=0.052) and skin infections (3.1 versus 6.4%; RR, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.25 to 0.93; P=0.34).

“Azithromycin given to women in labor decreases infections in both women and newborns during the puerperal period,” the authors write.

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