Antibiotics Given Before C-sections Are Not Linked to Asthma, Eczema in Young Children

Study findings provide evidence that preventative antibiotics improve health outcomes for babies and mothers, investigator say.

New research results showed that antibiotics given to women before a caesarean birth have no effect on the risk of early childhood conditions, such as asthma or eczema, according to investigators at the Universities of Birmingham and Warwick.

The results further support recommendations made by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NIHCE), which claims that preventative antibiotics should be offered to mothers before undergoing C-sections. Updated in 2011, the guidance was created to minimize the risk of infection and notes that the mother will get the most benefit from antibiotics given shortly before C-sections compared with after the baby’s cord is clamped.

Although caesarean birth is common, so no known health harms are noted, if antibiotics are given before clamping the baby’s cord, it can cross the placenta and affect microbes in the baby’s gut. The microbes include bacteria that are expected to benefit the development and health of the immune system.

The research team compared the risk of allergy-related conditions in the first 5 years after birth in children born by both before and after the change in NIHCE guidelines, using records from several children born between 2006 and 2018 in United Kingdom-wide health care databases.

The results suggest that the policy of preventative antibiotics before a C-section has no effect on the risk of these early childhood conditions developing.

“Maternal infections, such as wound infection, can be a risk in the period immediately after birth. Preventative antibiotics are of most benefit to the mother if given before the caesarean section is carried out,” lead study author Dana Sumilo, MD, said in a statement. “There is no known harm from these antibiotics to the babies born by caesarean birth, and our findings also suggest no effect on the risk of health conditions, such as asthma and eczema in early childhood.”

Further, Andrew Shennan, clinical director at NIHR Clinical Research Network South London, added that these new findings are promising and provide more evidence that preventative antibiotics improve health outcomes for mothers and babies.

“This arms clinicians with key evidence enabling them to ensure antibiotics are used wisely and at the optimum point for the most effective treatments,” he said in the statement.

Reference

Antibiotics given shortly before caesarean birth not linked to asthma and eczema in young children. EurekAlert! News release. May 18, 2022. Accessed May 23, 2022. https://www.eurekalert.org/news-releases/952933