Objective.

The use of intrapartum antibiotics to prevent early-onset group B streptococcal (EOGBS) infection has left pediatricians in a quandary about the appropriate evaluation and treatment of infants at risk for this infection. The aim of this study was to determine whether intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis changed the constellation and timing of onset of clinical signs of group B streptococcal (GBS) infection in term infants.

Methodology.

We conducted a retrospective chart review of infants who had EOGBS infection and were born in Southern California Kaiser Permanente Hospitals from 1988 through 1996. Objective criteria were used to ascertain maternal risk of infection, intrapartum antibiotic prophylaxis, and onset of clinical signs of infection.

Results.

Three hundred nineteen infants with EOGBS sepsis, bacteremia, or clinically suspected infection were identified from a population of 277 912 live births. Of the 172 term infants with culture-positive infection who had clinical signs of infection, 95% exhibited them in the first 24 hours of life. All of the infants exposed to intrapartum antibiotics became ill within the first 24 hours of life.

Conclusions.

Exposure to antibiotics during labor did not change the clinical spectrum of disease or the onset of clinical signs of infection within 24 hours of birth for term infants with EOGBS infection. A 48-hour stay is not required to monitor asymptomatic term infants exposed to intrapartum antibiotics for onset of GBS infection.

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