WEDNESDAY, Aug. 25 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women about to undergo a cesarean delivery should be given antibiotics right before the procedure to help prevent infections, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends.
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Infection is the most common complication of cesarean delivery and occurs in 10% to 40% of women who have the procedure, compared with 1% to 3% of women who deliver vaginally, according to the college.
Typically, antibiotics were only given after a cesarean delivery because it was believed that if they were given prior to birth, they would make their way into the baby's blood and interfere with newborn lab tests or lead to antibiotic-resistant infections in the newborn.
"Based on the latest data, prophylactic antibiotics given to pregnant women before a cesarean significantly reduce maternal infection and do not appear to harm newborns," Dr. William H. Barth, Jr., chair of the ACOG's Committee on Obstetric Practice, said in a college news release.
"We're recommending that all women who undergo cesarean get a preventive course of antibiotics before the surgery starts. Ideally, this should happen within 60 minutes of surgery," he added.
Women who require an emergency cesarean should be given antibiotics as soon as possible, according to the new recommendation.
However, the recommendation would not apply to pregnant women who are already taking antibiotics for another condition, Barth noted.
The new recommendation will be published in the September issue of the journal Obstetrics & Gynecology.
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SOURCE: American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, news release, Aug. 23, 2010