MRC ORACLE Children Study. Long term outcomes following prescription of antibiotics to pregnant women with either spontaneous preterm labour or preterm rupture of the membranes

BMC Pregnancy Childbirth. 2008 Apr 24:8:14. doi: 10.1186/1471-2393-8-14.


Background: The Medical Research Council (MRC) ORACLE trial evaluated the use of co-amoxiclav 375 mg and/or erythromycin 250 mg in women presenting with preterm rupture of membranes (PROM) ORACLE I or in spontaneous preterm labour (SPL) ORACLE II using a factorial design. The results showed that for women with a singleton baby with PROM the prescription of erythromycin is associated with improvements in short term neonatal outcomes, although co-amoxiclav is associated with prolongation of pregnancy, a significantly higher rate of neonatal necrotising enterocolitis was found in these babies. Prescription of erythromycin is now established practice for women with PROM. For women with SPL antibiotics demonstrated no improvements in short term neonatal outcomes and are not recommended treatment. There is evidence that both these conditions are associated with subclinical infection so perinatal antibiotic administration may reduce the risk of later disabilities, including cerebral palsy, although the risk may be increased through exposure to inflammatory cytokines, so assessment of longer term functional and educational outcomes is appropriate.

Methods: The MRC ORACLE Children's Study will follow up UK children at age 7 years born to 4809 women with PROM and the 4266 women with SPL enrolled in the earlier ORACLE trials. We will use a parental questionnaire including validated tools to assess disability and behaviour. We will collect the frequency of specific medical conditions: cerebral palsy, epilepsy, respiratory illness including asthma, diabetes, admission to hospital in last year and other diseases, as reported by parents. National standard test results will be collected to assess educational attainment at Key Stage 1 for children in England.

Discussion: This study is designed to investigate whether or not peripartum antibiotics improve health and disability for children at 7 years of age.

Trial registration: The ORACLE Trial and Children Study is registered in the Current Controlled Trials registry. ISCRTN 52995660.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Combination / therapeutic use
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Child
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Drug Therapy, Combination
  • Erythromycin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Fetal Membranes, Premature Rupture / drug therapy*
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Obstetric Labor, Premature / drug therapy*
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Pregnancy
  • Research Design
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Treatment Outcome


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Erythromycin
  • Amoxicillin-Potassium Clavulanate Combination

Associated data

  • ISRCTN/ISRCTN52995660