UVA Health research may significantly help protect mothers from sepsis

Published: Feb. 27, 2023 at 4:27 PM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - A new study from UVA Health says an existing and common antibiotic may be able to protect mothers from sepsis and death during childbirth.

Azithromycin, also known as Z-Pak, may be the key.

“A single pill of antibiotics to a woman when she’s in advanced labor reduces the risk of her getting a severe infection called sepsis by two thirds,” Doctor Bill Petri said Monday, February 27.

Dr. Petri is a professor of infectious disease at the University of Virginia. He says Z-Pak prevents a common infection during vaginal labor called sepsis. It causes organs to fail in the body.

“So your kidneys can have problems, your liver, your blood pressure can drop, and so it’s a very, very severe infection that can potentially lead to death,” Dr. Petri said.

Dr. Petri says it only helps the mother’s health: “But we didn’t see any impact at all on the baby’s risk of having sepsis, so that’s an unanswered problem. That’s something we still need to work on is how to protect the child from severe infection,” the doctor said.

This study covered seven countries and looked at women in lower-income settings.

They’re pushing for immediate use because of Z-Pak’s promising results.

“We’re working with the government of Bangladesh to make this part of national health policy in Bangladesh, that every mother in labor will get a single dose of an antibiotic to help prevent her from getting sepsis,” Dr. Petri said. “Many of the countries that participated in this study in Africa and Asia will be doing the same thing.”

Do you have a story idea? Send us your news tip here.