Antibiotics in Early Pregnancy Could Cause Birth Defects

Published on March 12th, 2020

antibiotics and birth defects thurswell lawExpectant mothers worry about a lot of things, especially what they put in their bodies. If a doctor prescribes a medication, however, women feel safe to assume their doctor has carefully assessed the risks of the drug and consider taking it to be safer and better than not having the medication at all. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the reality, and new research shows that taking certain antibiotics early in pregnancy could increase the risk of birth defects.

The Danger of Antibiotics in Pregnancy

Erythromycin. Clarithromycin. Azithromycin. Three common antibiotics. Three macrolide antibiotics. Three drugs that, if taken in early pregnancy, may increase the risk of birth defects.

A new study from British researchers and published in the British Medical Journal found that mothers who take certain antibiotics early in pregnancy put their babies at risk for physical birth defects or malformations of major bodily systems.

The researchers studied over 180,000 children whose mothers were prescribed a found of macrolide antibiotics or penicillin during or up to one year before pregnancy. Macrolide antibiotics are often prescribed to people who are allergic to penicillin.

Compared to mothers who took penicillin in the first trimester, women who took macrolides had a 55 percent increased relative risk of having a baby with a major birth defect involving the nervous system, gastrointestinal system, genital system, urinary system, and especially the cardiovascular system, where malformations were very high.

Of course, the questions are: What else were these mothers doing that could have put their unborn baby at risk? Could antibiotics really be that bad? The study, as it turns out, controlled for many factors that are known to increase the risk of birth defects, including alcohol and drug use, high blood pressure, smoking, and diabetes.

Minimizing the Risk of Birth Defects

The study also found that the risk of birth defects did not increase for women who were prescribed macrolides before they became pregnant. Women who took the medicine later in pregnancy also did not have an increased risk.

There was no association made between macrolide antibiotics and birth injuries like cerebral palsy or conditions like autism or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder.

The author of the study did point out, nevertheless, that this very large observational study was needed to detect a modest effect, and encourages pregnant women with bacterial infections to not refuse antibiotics since bacterial infections can be far more damaging to an unborn baby than the antibiotics. She does add, however, that their findings suggest that macrolides should be avoided if other antibiotics can be used.

Did Your Baby Suffer a Birth Injury Because of Medical Malpractice?

Not every doctor does their best to treat their patients carefully and appropriately. There are cases of medical malpractice and misdiagnosis every day. Some mistakes change a person’s life before they’re even born. If you or your baby suffered unnecessarily because of poor prenatal care, contact the Michigan personal injury attorneys at Thurswell Law to get the compensation you deserve. Schedule a consultation by calling (248) 354-2222 today. We do not charge any fees until we win.

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