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Avoid These Antibiotics During Pregnancy

Avoid These Antibiotics During Pregnancy

The use of certain antibiotics such as Tetracycline, Sulfonamides, Streptomycin, and Trimethoprim should be avoided or reduced during pregnancy because they can cause birth defects including brain malformations, heart defects, and cleft lips and palates. The risk is increased when used by pregnant women in their first trimester. Despite the dangers, many pregnant women are still prescribed these antibiotics for treatment of urinary tract infections and other ailments according to the CDC.

Antibiotics Increase the Risk for Birth Defects

Pregnant women should play an active role in knowing about the antibiotics prescribed to treat infections in pregnancy. While infections can be problematic, so can some antibiotics used for the treatment. Studies show that babies born to mothers under antibiotic treatment are at higher risk of experiencing complications.

While treatment of infections is crucial, researchers recommend the use of certain antibiotics only if there are no other suitable treatment options for the mother. The U.S Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that almost 500,000 women were prescribed potentially dangerous antibiotics in 2014. There is a 3 percent of birth defects for all pregnancies, and when antibiotic use enters the picture, birth defects are about two times more likely.

Antibiotics to Avoid When Pregnant

  • Tetracycline: Tetracycline is used in treating bacterial infections such as acne, gonorrhea, chlamydia, and UTIs. The use of Tetracycline in pregnancy can affect the embryo’s skeletal formation and cause toxicity. It can also cause discoloration in the baby’s teeth and complicate bone growth during the second half of pregnancy.
  • Sulfonamides: Sulfonamides are used to treat infections such as bacterial meningitis, pneumonia, UTIs, ear infections, and bronchitis. Sulfonamides cross the placenta and have been associated with heart defects, brain malformations, and increased incidences of cleft lips and palates.
  • Trimethoprim: This drug prevents bacteria from producing folic acid. When used during pregnancy, trimethoprim reduces the mother’s folic acid level. Folic acid is essential for normal development, especially in the first trimester. An increased risk of malformation in the baby’s spine and skull (neural tube defect) and cleft lip and palate has been reported in the offspring of women with low folate levels.
  • Streptomycin: Streptomycin is used in the treatment of tuberculosis, especially when susceptible bacteria is present. It should not be used in pregnancy as it crosses the placental barrier. Streptomycin can cause ototoxicity in the fetus and auditory nerve impairment.