Physicians at University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) showed that adding the dose of 500 milligrammes of azithromycin during a C-section also significantly decreases the use of health care resources, including re-admissions, emergency room visits and clinic visits.
"Infection during pregnancy and during the postpregnancy period is a major health problem for both mom and baby, and a common underlying cause of death," said Alan TN Tita, professor at UAB.
"Women who have a C-section are at significantly increased risk for infection compared to those who deliver vaginally," Mr Tita said.
A clinical trial was conducted across 14 hospitals in the US with 2,013 women who were more than 24 weeks' pregnant and undergoing a C-section.
A randomised group of patients received either the standard antibiotic regimen to prevent infection or a modified regimen with the additional azithromycin.
Researchers analysed data gathered from 14 participating hospitals to show that the frequency of endometritis, an infection of the lining of the uterus, and infection of the cesarean wound were decreased by 50 per cent in the women who received the adjunctive azithromycin compared to women who received the standard single antibiotic.
The babies who were delivered with the additional azithromycin did not have an increased risk of adverse events.
"Further analyses indicate that the benefits associated with adjunctive azithromycin are consistent across several subgroups of patients," said Jeff Szychowski, associate professor at UAB.
Additionally, hospital readmission rates and unscheduled visits to a clinic or to the emergency room were reduced. The study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine.