Taking Antibiotics During Pregnancy: 6 Things All Mums Need To Know


Pregnancy is a time with its fair
share of aches and pains, headaches, nausea, and generally
not feeling like your best self, so if your GP has prescribed
you antibiotics you are going to want to take them.

But with frequent headlines about antibiotics causing
problems when you’re expecting, you might be feeling
apprehensive. 

So what should mums-to-be know about taking antibiotics
during pregnancy?

SergeyYusin via Getty Images

1. Some antibiotics have been found to increase miscarriage
risk. 

Certain antibiotics can nearly double the risk of miscarriage
if taken during very early pregnancy, according to a new study in the Canadian
Medical Association Journal.

A major review, looking at 95,000 women found that five
common classes of the drug – macrolides, quinolones,
tetracyclines, sulfonamides and metronidazole – were causing
between a 60% and two-fold increase in ‘spontaneous
abortion’.

Dr Anick Berard, said: “Given that the
baseline risk of spontaneous abortion can go as high as 30%,
this is significant.

“Nevertheless, the increased risk was not seen for all
antibiotics, which is reassuring for users.”

The antibiotics erythromycin and nitrofurantoin did not
increase risk.

If this is something you are concerned about, speak to your
doctor.

2. Women who don’t know they are pregnant are more at risk.

The new study also highlighted that the
biggest risk is for women who do not yet know they are
pregnant, as UK doctors are generally cautious in prescribing
the medicines when they know conception has occurred.

For women who do not know they are pregnant yet, the first 12
weeks could be the riskier period so if you are on
antibiotics it is important to speak to your doctor as soon
as you suspect you might be carrying.

3. Antibiotic use has been linked to a lower infant birth
weight. 

A study from 2013 found that antibiotics
may be responsible for reducing a baby’s birth weight by as
much as 138g, compared with babies born to non-antibiotic
using mothers.

Low birth weight is a problem for babies as it has been
associated with common adult-onset chronic diseases,
including obesity, cardiovascular disease, type II diabetes
and some cancers in later life. 

If this is something you are concerned about, speak to your
doctor.

4. Antibiotics do not increase risk of cerebral palsy or
epilepsy. 

Despite stories to the contrary, a scientific review by teams
at the UCL Institute of Child Health and Great Ormond
Street Hospital found that the majority of
antibiotics prescribed during pregnancy do not
increase the risk of babies born at term having
epilepsy or cerebral palsy.

Speaking at the time, Ruth Gilbert, professor of
clinical epidemiology, who co-authored the study
said: “The message for pregnant women is that they
should not stop taking antibiotics when they are
prescribed them for infection.”  

5. If you do take need to take antibiotics speak to your doctor
about the dosage.

If you do need to take tablets during your pregnancy, Louise
Silverton, director for midwifery at the Royal
College of Midwives
 told HuffPost UK: “Pregnant
women should use the lowest effective dose for the shortest
possible time.

“If the recommended dose doesn’t control your symptoms or
you’re often in pain, get more advice from your midwife or
GP.”

6. You can take antibiotics when you are breastfeeding.

NHS Choices advises: “Most medicines,
including those used to treat postnatal depression, can be
taken while you’re breastfeeding without harming your baby.”

The only drugs they recommend mums do not take are codeine
phosphate (used to control diarrhoea), nasal
decongestants or aspirin.


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Taking Antibiotics During Pregnancy: 6 Things All Mums Need To Know

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