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This article is the author’s final published version in BJM Open, Volume 13, Issue 8, August 2023, Article number e068487.

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INTRODUCTION: Maternal and neonatal infections are among the most frequent causes of maternal and neonatal mortality, and current antibiotic strategies have been ineffective in preventing many of these deaths. A randomised clinical trial conducted in a single site in The Gambia showed that treatment with an oral dose of 2 g azithromycin versus placebo for all women in labour reduced certain maternal and neonatal infections. However, it is unknown if this therapy reduces maternal and neonatal sepsis and mortality. In a large, multinational randomised trial, we will evaluate the impact of azithromycin given in labour to improve maternal and newborn outcomes.

METHODS AND ANALYSIS: This randomised, placebo-controlled, multicentre clinical trial includes two primary hypotheses, one maternal and one neonatal. The maternal hypothesis is to test whether a single, prophylactic intrapartum oral dose of 2 g azithromycin given to women in labour will reduce maternal death or sepsis. The neonatal hypothesis will test whether this intervention will reduce intrapartum/neonatal death or sepsis. The intervention is a single, prophylactic intrapartum oral dose of 2 g azithromycin, compared with a single intrapartum oral dose of an identical appearing placebo. A total of 34 000 labouring women from 8 research sites in sub-Saharan Africa, South Asia and Latin America will be randomised with a one-to-one ratio to intervention/placebo. In addition, we will assess antimicrobial resistance in a sample of women and their newborns.

ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The study protocol has been reviewed and ethics approval obtained from all the relevant ethical review boards at each research site. The results will be disseminated via peer-reviewed journals and national and international scientific forums.


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