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Antibiotics Effective for Vaginal Injury After Childbirth

FRIDAY, June 27 -- Antibiotics can make a big difference in the healing of vaginal tissues damaged during childbirth, a new study finds.

Severe vaginal tears occur during childbirth in up to 20 percent of women, but those receiving antibiotics in the study had a third as many infections or other healing complications two weeks after the tears were surgically repaired following the delivery.

"Recovery from these tears can be painful and problematic," study co-author Dr. Yasser El-Sayed, associate chief of maternal-fetal medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine, said in a prepared statement. "If you add an infection, or a breakdown of the surrounding tissues, it's a huge burden on the emotional and physical well-being of a new mother."

The findings were published in the June issue of Obstetrics & Gynecology.

In the study, only four of 49 patients (8.2 percent) treated with antibiotics had symptoms of infection or tissue breakdown two weeks after the repair compared with 14 of 58 patients (24.1 percent) who received a placebo.

While the study was relatively small, the researchers said a significant difference in outcome was found, and this should clear up the debate by physicians as to whether antibiotics are helpful in these instances.

More information

The U.S. National Library of Medicine has more about childbirth.

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Posted: June 2008