The aim of this paper was to evaluate if mode of infant delivery was associated with patterns of systemic antibiotic exposure in children during their first three years.
Delivery by cesarean section (C-section) is associated with adverse short-term and long-term infant outcomes. Given that antibiotics during early life are prescribed for infant outcomes that are more likely among c-section deliveries, we hypothesized that postnatal antibiotic exposure will be greater among c-section infants compared to vaginally delivered infants.
Pediatric electronic health records from UFHealth, 2011 to 2017 were reviewed. We included singleton, term infants (37-42 weeks gestation) with a birth weight ≥ 2500 grams, with documented mode of delivery and well visits on record. Infants with a neonatal intensive care unit stay were excluded. Both oral and intravenous antibiotics for a 10-day duration were classified as a single episode. The primary outcome was antibiotic episodes in the first three years of life, and a sub-analysis was performed to compare broad-spectrum versus narrow-spectrum antibiotic exposures.
The mean number of antibiotic episodes in 4,024 full-term infants was 0.34 (SD = 0.79) and 24.1% of infants had at least one antibiotic episode. Penicillins were the most prescribed antibiotic in children 0-1 years (66.9%) and cephalosporins were the most common antibiotic prescribed for children 1-3 years (56.2%). We did not detect a meaningful or significant rate ratio (RR) between mode of delivery and overall antibiotic episodes 1.14 (95% CI 0.99, 1.31), broad-spectrum episodes 1.19 (95% CI 0.93, 1.52, or narrow-spectrum episodes 1.14 (95% CI 0.97, 1.34).
Our results do not support the hypothesis that postnatal antibiotic exposure was greater among infants delivered by cesarean section compare to infants delivered vaginally during the first three years of life.