AntibioticsDuring the first seven days of life, called the neonatal period, infections are dangerous and potentially deadly for the neonate. According to a study published in PLoS Medicine, the source of infection may be the mother. Authors used data collected between 1960 and 2013 for the study.

Completed studies published in medical databases were reviewed for inclusion. In total nearly 450 pieces were initially reviewed with 83 making the first cut and 67 making it into the final analysis. Researchers found a long list of articles on group B streptococcus infections, but other bacterial infections have not been adequately studied. Studies on non-bacterial, tetanus and sexual infections were excluded. 

Researchers found an increased risk of neonatal infection nearly seven times higher in newborns when the mother carried an infection. If colonization was found, the risk jumped to nearly 10-fold. There was also a connection between increased maternal risk factors for infection, like history of premature rupture of membranes, and increased risk of neonatal infection. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) claims around four million infants die each year as a result of neonatal infections. Based on the information collected by researchers, focusing on reducing the risk of maternal infection and treating infections promptly could decrease risk of neonates. Clinically, guidelines must be established to identify women at increased risk of infection and access to medical testing and treatment must be available to effectively reduce neonatal risk. 

Additional non-biased, high-quality research needs to be completed on a wider range of bacterial infections, effectiveness of maternal antibiotic treatment and effectiveness of neonatal antibiotic treatment especially in areas where high neonatal mortality rates. 

Source: Grace J. Chan, Anne CC. Lee, Abdullah H. Baqui, Jingwen Tan, Robert E. Black. Risk of Early-Onset Neonatal Infection with Maternal Infection or Colonization: A Global Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS Med, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pmed.1001502.