Babies are increasingly being exposed to antibiotics intrapartum in the bid to reduce neonatal and maternal deaths. Intrapartum antibiotic exposure, including even those considered safe in pregnancy, have been associated with childhood obesity and compromised immunity. Data on the extent of antibiotic use, safety and its impact on birth outcomes and neonatal health in Sub-Saharan Africa is very limited. This study sought to ascertain the extent of antibiotic use in pregnancy and its effects on birth outcomes in a rural hospital in Ghana.
The study was a retrospective randomized study of mothers who delivered babies in a rural hospital between 2011 and 2015 in Ghana. A total of 412 mother/baby records out of 2100 pre-selected met the inclusion criteria of the study. Indicators of neonatal health used were birthweight, Apgar score, incidence of birth defects.
Sixty five percent of pregnant women were administered antibiotics at some stage during pregnancy. Beta Lactam antibiotics accounted for more than 67% of all antibiotics prescribed. There was a statistically significant association between antibiotic exposure and pregnancy factors such as stage of pregnancy, parity and mode of delivery but not with socio-economic status of the mother. Intrapartum antibiotic exposure did not significantly affect the birthweight, incidence of congenital birth defect and mean Apgar scores. After adjusting for method of delivery, however, perinatal antibiotic use (24 h to delivery) was associated with lower mean Apgar scores. Birth weight was affected significantly by maternal socio-economic factors such as age and marital status.
Sixty five percent of women attending the antenatal clinic received antibiotics. Intrapartum antibiotics did not affect early markers of neonatal health such as birthweight, congenital birth defect and mean Apgar scores. However, antibiotic use less than 24 h to delivery was associated with a decrease in mean APGAR score.