Postpartum Infection in Morbidly Obese Women after Caesarean Section: Does Early Prophylactic Oral Antibiotic Use Make a Difference?


The rising prevalence of morbid obesity particularly in women coupled with a higher likelihood of having a caesarean section (C-section) birth and an increased risk of surgical site infection (SSI) places wound management among priority areas in maternity care. There is ambiguity about the efficacy of routine preventative care pathways particularly in morbid obese women with regards to SSI after caesarean section. A pilot study was therefore undertaken to explore the number of women with a C-section infection in a cohort of morbidly obese women during six weeks postpartum against a protocol of standard care of early antibiotic prophylaxis and skin closure practice. A short questionnaire was sent to 59 women with an early pregnancy BMI ≥ 40 who gave birth via C-section in a large maternity unit in Sheffield, UK. Data were collated from 39 women with 20 (51%) developing a post-operative wound infection within 6 weeks postpartum. Infections were higher in the women who had emergency C-section births (14/24, 60%). There was no significant difference in wound infection risk with respect to wound closure material (Chi-square = 0.298, p-value = 0.86) or the use of oral prophylactic antibiotic after birth (Chi-square = 0.2053, p-value = 0.650). Although all the women received routine intravenous (IV) antibiotics before C-section, only 26/39 received the 5-day oral antibiotic prophylaxis after birth. Six of 13 women who did not receive postpartum oral antibiotics (46%) developed a SSI. In summary, over half of morbidly obese women who delivered by C-section developed a wound infection, despite receiving prophylactic antibiotics. We acknowledge the limitations of these results from a small-sample retrospective observational study. However, this may indicate that post operative antibiotic prophylaxis confers no additional benefit in this group of patients and thus requires further investigation.

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Yeeles, H. , Trinick, S. , Childs, C. , Soltani, H. and Farrell, T. (2014) Postpartum Infection in Morbidly Obese Women after Caesarean Section: Does Early Prophylactic Oral Antibiotic Use Make a Difference?. Open Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, 4, 547-549. doi: 10.4236/ojog.2014.49077.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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