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If the membranes are ruptured beyond 12 hours prior to delivery, the fetus has an increased risk of fetal infection. At 18 hours, this risk is significant.
Prolonged rupture is considered to have occurred when 24 hours have elapsed, although different units may use different time scales.
Any sign indicative of infection in a neonate in association with prolonged rupture of membranes should be taken seriously; a sepsis screen should be performed and the neonate started on broad spectrum antibiotics.