New Study Links Antibiotics During Pregnancy To Birth Defects
Many women have to use antibiotics during pregnancy to treat a variety of infections. For example, I was prescribed antibiotics many times during my four pregnancies for urinary tract infections–some of which I had no idea that I even had at the time.
Some types of antibiotics are considered to be safe during pregnancy, meaning that they carry the lowest known risk to the developing baby. Any medication during pregnancy always comes with some kind of risk and the “best” and safest medications are the ones that have not been found to be associated with any known problems. However, medication safe to use during pregnancy is a class of medication that can always be changing because it's not ethical to test drugs on pregnant women, so doctors are always careful to keep their eyes open to the safety of medications on an ongoing basis.
And now, a new study is warning that antibiotics may not be as safe for women and their babies during pregnancy as we have all thought.
The study, out of Canada, and published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, took a closer look at almost all of the antibiotics that are commonly prescribed during pregnancy to treat infections, like respiratory or urinary tract infections. The team of doctors looked at data on these drugs from 1998 to 2008, so we are talking a lot of years of data that they pored over.
Unfortunately, the data revealed that some antibiotics might carry a risk of birth defects for babies. They found that clindamycin, doxycycline, quinolones, macrolides, and phenoxymethylpenicillin were all linked to birth defects that affected specific organs for babies in-utero. The risks were most commonly the highest during the first trimester during pregnancy.
The same team of researchers has also warned in the past that many antibiotics carry an almost doubled risk of miscarriage for pregnant women too. And while it sounds scary to hear about the risks of antibiotics, their entire goal is not to scare women off from getting treatment for infections, but to hopefully educate both doctors and pregnant women that how infections are treated needs to be carefully considered. If there is a safer option, of course we all deserve to know about it.
And wait: it's not all doom and gloom news here. There's also some good news: they did find that amoxicillin, cephalosporins, and nitrofurantoin were all safe options for antibiotics during pregnancy.
So what does all of this mean? Should you panic if you get sick during your pregnancy and you need some antibiotics? Run away screaming if you doctor tries to hand you a prescription for an antibiotic?
Infections during pregnancy also carry their own risks to you and your baby. Leaving an infection untreated can lead to complications during pregnancy such as preterm labor and a premature birth, so of course you don't want to skip treating an infection. But instead, you will definitely want to talk to your doctor to make sure that he or she is up-to-date on the latest recommendations for antibiotics during pregnancy. You could also discuss if there are any options for all-natural ways to treat your infection or if there is an option to delay treatment if you are on in the first trimester.
Have you used antibiotics during your pregnancy?