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Home Industry News Palsy risk for premature birth antibiotics

Palsy risk for premature birth antibiotics

18th September 2008

Children born to women given antibiotics during premature labour are more likely to develop cerebral palsy as a result, a study has shown.

The results from the Oracle children’s study – funded by the Medical Research Council – revealed children whose mothers were given two commonly prescribed drugs were twice as likely to develop the condition.

About three per cent of children involved in the study whose mothers had been given erythromycin or co-amoxiclav were found to have cerebral palsy when they reached seven years of age – twice the rate for children born prematurely without antibiotics.

In addition, functional impairment rates – including vision, hearing, speech, ambulation, dexterity, emotion, cognition and pain – were found to be evident in two out of five children whose mothers had been given erythromycin, about one-fifth above average.

Co-amoxiclav, on the other hand, was found to have no effect on functional impairment of the 3,196 children whose parents returned questionnaires seven years after the study started in 2001.

“The prescription of erythromycin for women in spontaneous preterm labour with intact membranes was associated with an increase in functional impairment among their children at seven years of age,” the study’s authors, from the University of Leicester write in the Lancet journal.

Commenting, Professor Philip Steer at Chelsea and Westminster hospital and Dr Alison Bedford Russell, Warwick Medical School, said: “The lessons to be learned seem clear; contrary to popular opinion – ‘might as well give them, they don’t do any harm’ – antibiotics are not risk-free.”

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