Intrapartum Antibiotics and Childhood Atopic Dermatitis

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Atopic dermatitis (AD) in children significantly impacts families because of medical costs, “lost” hours, and secondary characteristics such as asthma and ancillary infections. We investigate whether children delivered vaginally to women receiving intrapartum antibiotics have a greater risk of AD when younger than the age of 2 years than their counterparts.


We conducted a retrospective analysis of women who delivered child(ren) vaginally between 1996 and 2008. Women were identified as those who received intrapartum antibiotics and those who did not. Pediatric records were used to determine the incidence of AD.


We collected data for 492 mother–child pairs. Intrapartum antibiotics were administered during 128 births; 28.9% of those children were diagnosed with AD by age 2 years (relative risk [RR], 1.03; 95% confidence interval [CI], 0.75–1.41). Factors with the greatest risk of diagnosis of AD by 2 years of age were intrapartum antibiotic exposure for >24 hours (RR, 1.99; 95% CI, 1.13–3.49), first born (RR, 1.78; 95% CI, 1.33–2.38), and higher maternal education (RR, 1.43; 95% CI, 0.99–2.06). No statistical differences in the prevalence of AD related to parental eczema, maternal group B Streptococcus status, or gestational age existed.


Exposure to antibiotics for <24 hours during a vaginal delivery does not increase the risk of AD. Studies are needed to understand whether exposure for >24 hours during the intrapartum period increases the risk of AD.

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