The US Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) has issued a Final Recommendation Statement on ocular prophylaxis for gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum (GON), a serious ophthalmic infection that can occur in babies born to mothers with gonorrhea.

After examining the benefits and risks of applying an erythromycin ophthalmic ointment at birth, the Task Force deemed that topical ocular prophylaxis was safe and effective in preventing GON (Grade A: Recommended). This recommendation aligns with the Task Force’s 2011 recommendation. 

Currently, the only drug approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for prophylaxis is erythromycin, a macrolide antibiotic. In the recommendation statement, the authors noted that increased antimicrobial resistance worldwide should prompt further research into finding safe and effective alternatives.

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“The Task Force continues to recommend that all newborns are given antibiotic ointment to prevent GON,” said Michael Silverstein, MD, MPH, Task Force member and pediatrician. “The medicine is safe and highly effective at preventing this serious eye infection and its devastating consequences, including blindness.”

The Task Force also recommends that all pregnant women at risk for gonorrhea be screened and treated as part of routine prenatal care.  

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This article originally appeared on MPR