Timing of intrapartum ampicillin and prevention of vertical transmission of group B streptococcus

Obstet Gynecol. 1998 Jan;91(1):112-4. doi: 10.1016/s0029-7844(97)00587-5.


Objective: To evaluate the relationship between the time elapsed from the administration of ampicillin prophylaxis to delivery and its efficacy in interrupting intrapartum transmission of group B streptococcus.

Methods: During the 12-month study period, all women who came to the Virgen de las Nieves Hospital (Granada, Spain) for delivery were screened for group B streptococcus vaginal carriage by a pigment-detection culture-based procedure. Colonized women were treated with ampicillin (2 g intravenously), and the interval between ampicillin administration and delivery was recorded. Newborns from colonized mothers also were screened to detect group B streptococcus colonization.

Results: During the study period, 4525 women were admitted to the hospital for delivery and screened for group B streptococcus vaginal colonization. Group B streptococcus was detected in 543 women (12%), of whom 454 gave birth vaginally to 454 liveborn infants. Intrapartum ampicillin was given to 201 of these 454 women (44%), and 10% of the newborns from mothers who received intrapartum ampicillin prophylaxis were colonized by group B streptococcus. The relationship between timing of ampicillin administration and rate of neonatal group B streptococcal transmission was as follows: less than 1 hour before delivery, 46%; 1-2 hours, 29%; 2-4 hours, 2.9%; and more than 4 hours, 1.2%. Among the 253 mothers who received no intrapartum prophylaxis, colonization was found in 120 of their newborns (47%).

Conclusion: When the time between the start of ampicillin prophylaxis and delivery is at least 2 hours, vertical transmission of group B streptococcus is minimized.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Ampicillin / administration & dosage*
  • Ampicillin / therapeutic use
  • Carrier State / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / statistics & numerical data
  • Injections, Intravenous
  • Labor Onset
  • Penicillins / administration & dosage*
  • Penicillins / therapeutic use
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Prospective Studies
  • Streptococcal Infections / drug therapy
  • Streptococcal Infections / prevention & control*
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / isolation & purification
  • Streptococcus agalactiae / pathogenicity*
  • Time Factors
  • Vagina / microbiology


  • Penicillins
  • Ampicillin