Reassurance for women following Oracle study
Obstetricians are keen to reassure families that it has never been routine practice at NNUH to prescribe antibiotics to women with intact membranes when there are no signs of infection.
The Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital has taken a number of calls today from patients worried about the publicity concerning the use of antibiotics for women in premature labour.
It follows a scientific study, reported in the Lancet, linking a small number of cases of cerebral palsy to the use of antibiotics.
Obstetricians at NNUH are keen to reassure families that it has never been routine practice to prescribe antibiotics to women with intact membranes when there are no signs of infection.
Obstetrician Mr Eddie Morris said: We carefully review all relevant studies to produce our departmental guidelines and our opinion is that there is no evidence to support routine prescription of these antibiotics to these mothers.
For women who have signs of infection the use of appropriate antibiotics continues to be vitally important to save life and reduce severe illnesses in both mother and baby.
The issue of whether to give antibiotics such as erythromycin to a woman who has broken her waters prematurely and does not have signs of infection has always been a difficult area. The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists produced guidance in 2006 that erythromycin should be prescribed to women after a diagnosis of premature rupture of membranes. When appropriate we have followed this guidance and discussed the known benefits and risks at the time with the family.
The first Oracle study demonstrated possible short term benefits to the baby of erythromycin with rupture of membranes. However the new data suggests that longer term problems may be more significant. We will be reviewing this data urgently and acting appropriately.
Please note that the results of the Oracle study do not apply to other infections in pregnancy for which mothers may have been prescribed antibiotics. Affected mothers should continue their antibiotics and if worried should speak to their midwife, GP or obstetrician. Failure to complete a course of antibiotics to treat such infections could risk the health of the mother or unborn baby.”