Antibiotic Use During Early Pregnancy Linked to Birth Malformations

Taking certain antibiotics while in the first trimester of pregnancy was associated with a higher risk of congenital disabilities, a new paper says.

The research, published in the medical journal BMJ, described a higher risk of childbirth defects of women who took macrolides during the first trimester of pregnancy in comparison to mothers who took penicillin.

Macrolide antibiotics comprise erythromycin, clarithromycin , and azithromycin. These types of antibiotics are used in treating infections like pneumonia, bronchitis, and urinary, as well as skin and sexually transmitted conditions.

The research assayed data from 104,605 children born in the United Kingdom between 1990 and 2016, whose mothers consumed either penicillin or macrolides. The team of scientists looked for congenital disabilities and neurodevelopmental conditions identified later in life.

The team discovered that prescribing macrolides to women during their pregnancy increased the risk of critical malformations, such as cardiac defects, to 28 to 1,000 births, in comparison to 18 per 1,000 births with penicillin. More

The research did not see any association between macrolides prescription and neurodevelopmental issues, though.

The Study Reiterates Other Findings

Professor Ruth Gilbert of the University College London, one of the authors of the paper, said that this is a small but still important rise and, relying upon these discoveries, pregnant women and their physicians should find an alternative treatment ideal to the type of infection.

Gilbert also cautioned about the risk of not taking antibiotics at all in case of an infection.

“If you’ve got a bacterial infection, it’s really important to take antibiotics because infection itself can be really damaging to the unborn baby,” Gilbert said.

Back in 2005, Sweden spoke against the use of the macrolide erythromycin in pregnant women after a report demonstrated a connection between the drug and heart defects, the paper said.

Another study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal discovered that common antibiotics, as well as macrolides, are associated with an increased risk of miscarriage when taken in early pregnancy.

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