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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 of antibiotic used to treat the infection depends on which bacteria are causing the infection. Antibiotics commonly used during pregnancy include erythromycin, clindamycin, ampicillin, gentamicin, and metronidazole.

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

Prevention with antibiotics after preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM)

Preterm premature rupture of membranes (pPROM) is when your water breaks (rupture of the amniotic sac) before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy. When given to women with pPROM, antibiotics may: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 whose amniotic sac has not ruptured (intact membranes). But some women do receive antibiotics for group B strep prevention or treatment.

    This information is produced and provided by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). The information in this topic may have changed since it was written. For the most current information, contact the National Cancer Institute via the Internet web site at http:// cancer .gov or call 1-800-4-CANCER.

    WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

    Last Updated: January 08, 2013
    This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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