Treatment of Neonatal Chlamydial Conjunctivitis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

J Pediatric Infect Dis Soc. 2018 Aug 17;7(3):e107-e115. doi: 10.1093/jpids/piy060.


Background: With the continued high prevalence of chlamydia worldwide and high risk of transfer from mothers to their infant during delivery, a need for safe and effective therapies for infants who acquire a chlamydial infection remains. We conducted a systematic review and meta-analysis of antibiotic treatments, including oral erythromycin, azithromycin, and trimethoprim, for neonatal chlamydial conjunctivitis.

Methods: We searched Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (CENTRAL) from their inception to July 14, 2017. We included randomized and nonrandomized studies that evaluated the effects of erythromycin, azithromycin, or trimethoprim in neonates with chlamydial conjunctivitis. A meta-analysis using a random-effects generic inverse-variance method was performed, and the certainty of evidence was assessed using the Grading of Recommendations, Assessment, Development, and Evaluation (GRADE) approach.

Results: We found 12 studies (n = 292 neonates) and were able to meta-analyze 7 studies that used erythromycin at a dose of 50 mg/kg body weight per day for 14 days. The clinical and microbiological cure were 96% (95% confidence interval [CI], 94%-100%) and 97% (95% CI, 95%-99%), respectively, and adverse gastrointestinal effects occurred in 14% (95% CI, 1%-28%) of the neonates. The microbiological cure in the study that assessed azithromycin at 20 mg/kg per day were 60% (95% CI, 27%-93%) when it was given in a single dose and 86% (95% CI, 61%-100%) when given in a 3-day course. Two studies reported compliance with treatments, and 1 study reported no pyloric stenosis events. Because of the risk of bias and the few neonates included across the studies, the certainty of evidence is low to very low. No studies assessed trimethoprim.

Conclusions: Although evidence suggests that erythromycin at 50 mg/kg per day for 14 days results in higher numbers of cure than does azithromycin, compliance and risk of pyloric stenosis related to their use for other infections in neonates will factor into treatment recommendations. More data are needed to compare these treatments directly.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Azithromycin / adverse effects
  • Azithromycin / therapeutic use
  • Bias
  • Chlamydia Infections / drug therapy*
  • Chlamydia trachomatis
  • Conjunctivitis, Bacterial / drug therapy*
  • Drug Administration Schedule
  • Erythromycin / adverse effects
  • Erythromycin / therapeutic use
  • Female
  • Gastrointestinal Diseases / chemically induced
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Pyloric Stenosis / chemically induced
  • Risk Factors
  • Trimethoprim / adverse effects
  • Trimethoprim / therapeutic use


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Erythromycin
  • Azithromycin
  • Trimethoprim