Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection that is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, and is a major public health challenge today. N gonorrhoeae can be transmitted from the mother's genital tract to the newborn during birth, and can cause gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum as well as systemic neonatal infections. It can also cause endometritis and pelvic sepsis in the mother. This review updates and replaces an earlier Cochrane Review on antibiotics for treating this infectious condition.
To assess the clinical effectiveness and harms of antibiotics for treating gonorrhoea in pregnant women.
We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group's Trials Register (31 May 2017), LILACS database (1982 to April 5, 2017), the WHO International Clinical Trials Registry Platform (ICTRP; April 5, 2017), ClinicalTrials.gov (April 5, 2017), the ISRCTN Registry (April 5, 2017), and Epistemonikos (April 5, 2017). We also searched reference lists of all retrieved articles.
We included randomised controlled trials (RCTs) comparing the use of antibiotics for treating gonorrhoea in pregnancy. The antibiotics could have been used alone or in combination, were administered parenterally, orally, or both, and were compared with another antibiotic.We included RCTs regardless of their publication status (published, unpublished, published as an article, an abstract, or a letter), language, or country. We applied no limits on the length of follow-up.We excluded RCTs using a cluster- or cross-over design, or quasi-RCTs.
Three review authors independently assessed trials for inclusion and risk of bias, extracted data, and checked them for accuracy.
We included two RCTs, that randomised 514 pregnant women (347 women analysed) at a mean gestational age of 22 weeks. Both trials were conducted in the outpatient department of the same two hospitals in the USA between 1993 and 2001, and had a follow-up of 14 days. One of the trials was sponsored by a drug company. We considered both trials to be at a high risk of bias.One trial compared ceftriaxone (125 mg, intramuscular) with cefixime (400 mg, oral); the other trial had three arms, and assessed ceftriaxone (250 mg, intramuscular) versus either amoxicillin (3 g, oral) plus probenecid (1 g, oral) or spectinomycin (2 g, intramuscular). We did not include the spectinomycin data because this medication is no longer produced. We were unable to conduct meta-analysis because the trials compared different medications.We found inconclusive evidence that there were clear differences in the cure of gonococcal infections (genital, extragenital, or both) between intramuscular ceftriaxone versus oral amoxicillin plus oral probenecid (risk ratio (RR) 1.07, 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.98 to 1.16; one RCT; 168 women; very low-quality evidence) or intramuscular ceftriaxone versus oral cefixime (RR 0.99, 95% CI 0.91 to 1.08; one RCT; 95 women; very low-quality evidence).Neither of the trials reported on two of this review's primary maternal outcomes: incidence of obstetric complications (miscarriage, premature rupture of membranes, preterm delivery, or fetal death), or disseminated gonococcal infection, or on the incidence of neonatorum ophthalmia in the neonates.One trial reported one case of vomiting in the oral amoxacillin plus probenecid group. Trials reported pain at the injection sites, but did not quantify it. Hyperberbilurrubinemia was more frequent in neonates whose mothers were exposed to ceftriaxone. There were no clear differences between groups for neonatal malformation.
This Cochrane Review found high levels of cure of gonococcal infections in pregnancy with the given antibiotic regimens. However, the evidence in this review is inconclusive as it does not support one particular regimen over another. This conclusion was based on very low-quality evidence (downgraded for poor trial design, imprecision) from two trials (involving 514 women), which we assessed to be at a high risk of bias for a number of domains. The harm profiles of the antibiotic regimes featured in this review remain unknown.High-quality RCTs are needed, with sufficient power to assess the clinical effectiveness and potential harms of antibiotics in pregnant women with gonorrhoea. These should be planned according to Standard Protocol Items: Recommendations for Interventional Trials (SPIRIT),conducted following CONSORT recommendations, and based on Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) outcomes.