Women who have a caesarean section surgery could have their health outcomes improved by being given antibiotics before the operation begins, rather than after the umbilical cord is clamped.
This is according to a study at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and Barnes-Jewish Hospital, which involved international healthcare specialists analysing the health of more than 8,000 women.
The research, which was published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology, found taking antibiotics at an earlier stage of the caesarean section could reduce the number of infections that strike at the surgical site by around 50 per cent.
Standard practice in a number of countries is to provide these drugs after the newborn is delivered, due to worries that the medication could hide sepsis and similar health problems with the baby.
Associate professor of medicine and infectious disease specialist David Warren described this as a "theoretical concern", noting: "There have been several recent studies showing that this was not an issue."
Research appears to indicate that providing antibiotics in the 60 minutes preceding the operation curtails the likelihood of the mother sustaining an infection significantly and has no impact on the wellbeing of the child.
Scientists observed 8,668 caesarean section deliveries over an eight-year period, in which 303 infections were seen.
Statistics indicate that there is a risk of between nine and ten per cent that a birth of this kind would result in an infection in cases when antibiotics are provided after the umbilical cord is clamped.
However, when these drugs are administered earlier, there are approximately five fewer infections for every 100 surgeries.
"Our findings support giving antibiotics just before a caesarean section to prevent infections," Dr Warren stated.
Surgeries of this kind take place for a number of reasons, including when a birth does not progress properly, if the mother goes into labour prematurely, when a breech birth would take place, if the mother has a viral infection of it the condition of placenta praevia is noticed.