Zithromax May Save Mothers from Sepsis During Delivery, But Not Their Children: Study

Use of Zithromax during delivery cut sepsis risks for mothers by 33%

Giving women Zithromax during labor can help prevent sepsis and even death, but new research indicates that the antibiotic does not increase the survival chances for their children.

While one-third of women who gave birth vaginally avoided suffering from sepsis when they were given the common antibiotic azithromycin, also known by the brand name Zithromax, the treatments did not prevent sepsis or death among their offspring, according to findings published on March 30 in The New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and the University of North Carolina School of Medicine conducted a placebo-controlled randomized study across multiple countries. More than 29,000 Women who were in labor at 28 weeks of pregnancy or more, and who were planning a vaginal delivery, were randomized to receive a single 2-gram oral dose of azithromycin or a placebo during delivery.

The trial was conducted at eight sites across Africa, Asia, Latin America, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The sites are part of the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Global Network for Women and Children’s Health Research.

Sepsis is a serious type of infection that can trigger a system-wide infection throughout the body, causing multiple organs to shut down. Most cases are treatable, but the infection can often lead to death.

Zithromax Use During Vaginal Deliveries

Zithromax is known to reduce maternal infections in women when they underwent an unplanned c-section. But researchers wanted to find out if that same effect would be seen during planned vaginal deliveries.

According to their findings, administering Zithromax to women having a vaginal delivery reduced the rate of sepsis by 33%. However, there was no statistical difference in the incidence of still birth, neonatal sepsis or neonatal death within four weeks of birth regardless of whether the mother was given Zithromax or not, the researchers determined.

The study’s primary outcome, sepsis or maternal death, occurred in 1.6% of women in the Zithromax group compared to 2.4% of women in the placebo group. This rate is a composite of both sepsis rates and death rates.

Death rates from any cause were similar in both groups, holding at about 0.1%.

Conversely, neonatal sepsis occurred at similar rates in both the placebo group (9.6%) and the Zithromax group (9.8%). Neonatal death rates within four weeks after birth occurred at 1.5% in both groups. Stillbirths also occurred at about the same rate. Roughly 10.5% of women in the Zithromax group suffered a stillbirth, while women in the placebo group suffered a stillbirth at a rate of 10.3%.

Researchers determined other outcomes, like maternal infections, urine infections, and endometriosis, were also lower in the Zithromax group. Whether that decrease was from receiving antibiotics or not requires more research.

Mothers who were given Zithromax had lower rates of hospital readmissions and unscheduled visits for care following delivery and within 42 days. This may be because offering antibiotics to mothers during labor may treat undiagnosed bacterial infections, leading to fewer follow-up visits.

“Among women planning a vaginal delivery, a single oral dose of azithromycin resulted in a significantly lower risk of maternal sepsis or death than placebo but had little effect on newborn sepsis or death,” the researchers concluded.

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Concerns Over Widespread Zithromax Use

There are lingering concerns over the side effects of Zithromax use. A recent study linked Zithromax, Z-pack and other similar antibiotics to increased risk of heart problems and cardiovascular death.

In addition, widespread use of antibiotics like Zithromax have helped to increase the proliferation of antibiotics resistant bacteria. This can lead to the development of “superbugs” which cannot be treated by typical antibiotic treatments.

Antibiotic resistance has been a growing concern worldwide in recent years, as researchers have noted a rise in bacteria that does not respond to available antibiotics. In response, a number of studies have highlighted the widespread overprescribing of antibiotics for inappropriate conditions, for which the drugs provide no actual benefit.


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