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The effect of intrapartum antibiotics on early-onset neonatal sepsis in Dhaka, Bangladesh: a propensity score matched analysis

Grace J Chan12*, Elizabeth A Stuart3, Marzia Zaman4, Abdullah A Mahmud4, Abdullah H Baqui5 and Robert E Black5

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Boston Children’s Hospital, Boston, USA

2 Department of Global Health and Population, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, USA

3 Department of Mental Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA

4 Public Health Sciences Division, International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, Dhaka, Bangladesh

5 Department of International Health, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA

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BMC Pediatrics 2014, 14:104  doi:10.1186/1471-2431-14-104

Published: 17 April 2014



We estimate the effect of antibiotics given in the intrapartum period on early-onset neonatal sepsis in Dhaka, Bangladesh using propensity score techniques.


We followed 600 mother-newborn pairs as part of a cohort study at a maternity center in Dhaka. Some pregnant women received one dose of intravenous antibiotics during labor based on clinician discretion. Newborns were followed over the first seven days of life for early-onset neonatal sepsis defined by a modified version of the World Health Organization Young Infants Integrated Management of Childhood Illnesses criteria.

Using propensity scores we matched women who received antibiotics with similar women who did not. A final logistic regression model predicting sepsis was run in the matched sample controlling for additional potential confounders.


Of the 600 mother-newborn pairs, 48 mothers (8.0%) received antibiotics during the intrapartum period. Seventy-seven newborns (12.8%) were classified with early-onset neonatal sepsis. Antibiotics appeared to be protective (odds ratio 0.381, 95% confidence interval 0.115–1.258), however this was not statistically significant. The results were similar after adjusting for prematurity, wealth status, and maternal colonization status (odds ratio 0.361, 95% confidence interval 0.106–1.225).


Antibiotics administered during the intrapartum period may reduce the risk of early-onset neonatal sepsis in high neonatal mortality settings like Dhaka.

Intrapartum antibiotics; Early-onset neonatal sepsis; Propensity scores; Bangladesh