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Antibiotics to Treat and Prevent Infection During Preterm Labor

Topic Overview

During preterm labor, antibiotics may be used to treat or prevent an infection.

Treatment with antibiotics

If an infection is causing your preterm labor, you will be treated with antibiotics. The type used depends on which bacteria are causing the infection. The antibiotics most commonly used during pregnancy include erythromycin, clindamycin, ampicillin, gentamicin, and metronidazole.

Antibiotics don't always clear up uterine infection. And they don't always prevent preterm labor. If a mother's uterus has become infected and her fetus is mature enough, her doctor or nurse-midwife might not try to delay the birth.

Prevention with antibiotics after pPROM

Preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM) means that your water breaks (rupture of the amniotic sac) before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. When given to women with pPROM, antibiotics may:footnote 1

  • Increase time from pPROM to delivery.
  • Lower the risk of infection in the vagina and uterus.
  • Lower the risk of fetal infection.

Prevention with antibiotics with intact membranes

Antibiotics are not a recommended treatment for women in preterm labor with intact membranes. (This means the amniotic sac has not ruptured.) But some women do get antibiotics to prevent or treat group B strep.

Related Information

References

Citations

  1. Haas DM (2011). Preterm birth, search date June 2010. BMJ Clinical Evidence. Available online: http://www.clinicalevidence.com.

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical ReviewerSarah Marshall, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical ReviewerKirtly Jones, MD - Obstetrics and Gynecology

Current as ofNovember 21, 2017


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