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Antibiotics and the Prolongation of Pregnancy in Preterm Labor With an Advanced Cervical Exam

This study has been terminated.
(published data suggest potential harm in other investigations.)
Information provided by (Responsible Party):
Thaddeus Waters, MetroHealth Medical Center Identifier:
First received: December 27, 2007
Last updated: October 23, 2012
Last verified: October 2012

Preterm birth, its causes, prevention, complications and ramifications persist as an important focus of obstetrical research. In the United States 11.8% of all live births occur prior to 37 weeks gestation. As many as 45% of these deliveries will have been proceeded by preterm labor with intact membranes.(2) Both preterm labor and preterm premature rupture of membranes have both been associated with evidence intrauterine infection. While antibiotic treatment in conservative management of preterm PROM remote from term has been shown to significantly prolong pregnancy and reduce infant morbidity, (16) data regarding the effectiveness of antibiotics for pregnancy prolongation in preterm labor are inconsistent. (3-15) Currently, narrow spectrum antibiotics (penicillin or clindamycin) are given prior to delivery to reduce the risk of neonatal Group B Beta Streptococcus (GBS) sepsis, however broad spectrum antibiotic treatment of women with preterm labor for pregnancy prolongation is not recommended.

Review of the literature regarding antibiotic treatment for pregnancy prolongation in preterm labor reveals that most studies utilized single agent therapy, and no study has evaluated the use of antibiotics for pregnancy prolongation in women with an advanced cervical exam (>4cm). While a number of studies have shown significant pregnancy prolongation in unselected populations,(5,12,13) only one study of 12 reviewed was able to show a neonatal benefit to adjunctive antibiotic use.(12,20) Norman, et al was able to show a reduction in the incidence of necrotising enterocolitis with the use of antibiotics. Given the number of studies in this area, and the lack of supporting evidence, this likely represents an alpha error. Another study by Svare et al was able to show a significant decrease in NICU admissions for women treated with antibiotics in the setting of preterm labor, however no change was reported in neonatal morbidities.

Our proposed study is designed to evaluate patients at particular risk for preterm delivery; those with advanced cervical exam. In this randomized prospective controlled study, we intend to examine the influence of adjunctive antibiotic use in preterm labor complicated by a cervical exam of 4 cm or greater. We plan to compare a study group receiving broad-spectrum antibiotics with a control group that will not receive antibiotics for pregnancy prolongation. Both groups will receive antibiotics for GBS prophylaxis as indicated. We hope to see a delay in delivery in the study group as a primary outcome. Secondary outcomes will include the use of steroids, neonatal complications including sepsis, intraventricular hemorrhage, periventricular leukomalacea, mechanical ventilation and respiratory distress syndrome, retinopathy of prematurity and necrotizing enterocolitis, and neonatal ICU stay.

Condition Intervention
Length of Pregnancy Prolongation in Hours
Drug: erythromycin and metronidazole (antibiotics)
Drug: placebo

Study Type: Interventional
Study Design: Allocation: Randomized
Endpoint Classification: Efficacy Study
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Double Blind (Subject, Caregiver, Investigator, Outcomes Assessor)
Primary Purpose: Prevention
Official Title: Antibiotics and the Prolongation of Pregnancy in Preterm Labor With an Advanced Cervical Exam

Resource links provided by NLM:

Further study details as provided by MetroHealth Medical Center:

Primary Outcome Measures:
  • Length of pregnancy prolongation [ Time Frame: Measured from randomization to delivery ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]

Secondary Outcome Measures:
  • Respiratory distress [ Time Frame: newborn nursery ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]

Enrollment: 50
Study Start Date: December 2007
Study Completion Date: October 2012
Primary Completion Date: October 2012 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)
Arms Assigned Interventions
Experimental: A

roup A will be assigned to receive antibiotics:

  • Erythromycin 250 mg IV q 6 hours x 8 doses, followed erythromycin 250 mg tabs, 1 PO q 8 hours for five days.
  • Metronidazole, 1 gm IV loading dose followed by 500 mg IV q 12 hours x 4 doses, followed by metronidazole 500 mg tabs, 1 PO q 8 hours for five days.
Drug: erythromycin and metronidazole (antibiotics)

Erythromycin 250 mg IV q 6 hours x 8 doses, followed erythromycin 250 mg tabs, 1 PO q 8 hours for five days.

Metronidazole, 1 gm IV loading dose followed by 500 mg IV q 12 hours x 4 doses, followed by metronidazole 500 mg tabs, 1 PO q 8 hours for five days

Placebo Comparator: B
Group B will not receive antibiotics for pregnancy prolongation, but will receive a matching masked placebo (IV saline and pill) regimen.
Drug: placebo
IV and pill placebo


Ages Eligible for Study:   18 Years to 40 Years
Genders Eligible for Study:   Female
Accepts Healthy Volunteers:   Yes

Inclusion Criteria:

  1. All patients admitted with the diagnosis of preterm labor between 24 0/7 and 33 6/7 weeks gestation. Preterm labor will be defined by regular contractions and/or cervical change from last documented exam.
  2. Cervical exam 4 cm or greater
  3. Intact membranes

Exclusion Criteria:

  1. Multiple gestation (>2)
  2. Clinical evidence of chorioamnionitis, such as maternal fever, uterine tenderness, fetal tachycardia
  3. Lethal fetal anomaly
  4. Persistent vaginal bleeding, abruption, or placenta previa
  5. Rupture of membranes
  6. Maternal illness or fetal indication requiring delivery
  7. Inability to give informed consent
  8. Serious allergy to study medications. GI discomfort will not be considered a drug allergy
  Contacts and Locations
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Please refer to this study by its identifier: NCT00589329

United States, Ohio
MetroHealth Medical Center
Cleveland, Ohio, United States, 44109
Sponsors and Collaborators
MetroHealth Medical Center
Principal Investigator: Brian Mercer, M.D. MetroHealth Medical Center MFM Director
Principal Investigator: Thaddeus Waters, M.D. MetroHealth Medical Center
  More Information

No publications provided

Responsible Party: Thaddeus Waters, MFM attending, metroheatlh, MetroHealth Medical Center Identifier: NCT00589329     History of Changes
Other Study ID Numbers: IRB01-00012
Study First Received: December 27, 2007
Last Updated: October 23, 2012
Health Authority: United States: Institutional Review Board

Keywords provided by MetroHealth Medical Center:
Preterm birth
preterm labor
respiratory distress

Additional relevant MeSH terms:
Anti-Bacterial Agents
Antibiotics, Antitubercular
Erythromycin Estolate
Erythromycin Ethylsuccinate
Erythromycin stearate
Anti-Infective Agents
Antiparasitic Agents
Antiprotozoal Agents
Antitubercular Agents
Enzyme Inhibitors
Gastrointestinal Agents
Molecular Mechanisms of Pharmacological Action
Pharmacologic Actions
Protein Synthesis Inhibitors
Radiation-Sensitizing Agents
Therapeutic Uses processed this record on March 03, 2015