Ophthalmia neonatorum: what kind of prophylaxis?

J Matern Fetal Neonatal Med. 2011 Jun;24(6):769-73. doi: 10.3109/14767058.2010.531326.


Objective: Conjunctivitis during neonatal period occurs in 1-12% of all babies. Ophthalmia neonatorum is an acute muco-purulent conjunctivitis occurring in the first month of birth. It is essentially an infection acquired during vaginal delivery. The most frequent infectious agents involved in ophthalmia neonatorum are Chlamydia trachomatis and Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

Methods: Topical ocular prophylaxis must be instituted early after birth. Recommended prophylactic regimen are: 1% nitrate solution; 1% tetracycline solution; 1% erythromycin solution; 2.5% povidone-iodine solution; and fusidic acid.

Results: Evidence suggests better outcomes using 1% tetracycline solutions even if there is the risk of selecting drug resistant bacteria. However, even the widespread used nitrate solution can cause a chemical conjunctivitis, arguing against its widespread use.

Conclusions: Fusidic acid is a relatively new promising therapy even if there are still few data about its use. None of the used regimens has the optimal risk-benefit profile to suggest a widespread use.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis / adverse effects
  • Antibiotic Prophylaxis / methods*
  • Chlamydia Infections / prevention & control
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / drug effects
  • Chlamydia trachomatis / physiology
  • Fusidic Acid / adverse effects
  • Fusidic Acid / therapeutic use
  • Gonorrhea / prevention & control
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / drug effects
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / physiology
  • Ophthalmia Neonatorum / prevention & control*


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Fusidic Acid