Changing the timing of administering antibiotics from after a Caesarean section to before the surgery cuts the infection rate in half, U.S. researchers say.
Dr. David K. Warren -- an infectious disease specialist at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital -- said the previous practice of waiting to give antibiotics until after the surgical delivery of the baby evolved out of concern that the drugs might hide signs of blood infection in a newborn.
However, subsequent studies showed giving antibiotics in the hour before surgery reduced the risk of infection in the mother and had no effect on the health of the infant, Warren said.
The researchers tracked Caesarean section deliveries and post-surgical site infections at Barnes-Jewish Hospital from January 2003 to December 2010. The hospital changed its policy to administering antibiotics before Caesarean section surgery in January 2004, Warren said.
During the eight-year study period, the researchers observed 303 infections after 8,668 Caesarean deliveries.
The study, published in Obstetrics & Gynecology, found the infection rate was about nine or 10 infections per 100 Caesarean section deliveries in 2003, but when antibiotics were administered beforehand, the infection was about two per 100 Caesarean sections.