New guidelines by Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists say that all pregnant ladies who go into labour too soon should be given antibiotics to protect their baby from a potentially deadly infection called Group B Strep (GBS).
Hundreds of newborn babies a year in the UK catch it. With prompt treatment, most can make a full recovery.
RCOG says any woman who goes into labour before 37 weeks should be offered antibiotics as a precaution, even if her waters have not broken and the protective amniotic sac surrounding the baby in the womb is still intact.
Group B Strep bacteria can live harmlessly in the lower vaginal tract – about one in four women has it – and it can be passed on to the baby during delivery.