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Pregnancy Warning - Two Antibiotics Linked To Birth Defects

Posted by Jane Akre
Tuesday, November 03, 2009 11:19 AM EST
Category: Protecting Your Family
Tags: Antibiotics, Pregnancy, Nitrofurantoins, Sulfonamides, Bactrim, Septra, Furadantin, Macrobid, Macrodantin, CDC

CDC study finds an increased risk of birth defects with two antibiotics

Two Antibiotics Linked to Birth Defects

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IMAGE SOURCE: ©iStockphoto/ antibiotics/ iStockPhoto 

They are antibiotics not generally considered a first-line defense, but a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) study warns pregnant women away from two antibiotics because of a possible link to birth defects.

The two types of antibiotics are nitrofurantoins and sulfonamides, also called sulfa drugs.

Nitrofurantoins include Furadantin, Macrobid and Macrodantin, reports US News. Sulfa drugs are sold by the brand name Bactrim and Septra.

More commonly prescribed to pregnant women are penicillin, erythromycin, cephalosporins, and quinolones. These antibiotics have not been associated with any increased risk for about 30 different birth defects, researchers add.

The CDC study, under the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, was undertaken to better understand what antibiotics women can take during pregnancy.

Krista Crider, a geneticist and lead author says, "The most important message is that most commonly used antibiotics do not seem to be associated with the birth defects we studied.”

What Researchers Found

The findings showed that nitrofurantoins were associated with eye defects, several congenital heart defects, and birth defects including anophthalmia, and cleft lip or palate. Mothers who took this antibiotic were twice as likely to have the latter two birth defects.

The sulfa drugs appeared to increase by three-fold the occurrences of anencephaly, a malformation of the skull and brain that can be fatal. Sulfa drugs were also tied to heart defects and breathing difficulties from a diaphragmatic hernia as well as transverse limb deficiency.

The study looked at the records of more than 13,000 mothers of babies with one of more than 30 birth defects. Their rate of antibiotic usage was compared to a group of 5,000 mother of children without birth defects.

The results are published in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine. 

The study is important because as more standard first-line drugs become stop working due to antibiotic resistance, less common antibiotics are often substituted. Antibiotic resistance is generally blamed on the overuse of antibiotics in humans and by agribusiness to keep large numbers of animals closely confined.

Penicillin was not completely off the hook. Women who took it during pregnancy were three times more likely to have babies with a limb malformation. Erythromycin, cephalosporins and quinolones were associated with a risk of one or two birth defects, though that is not conclusive.

Doctors warn that an untreated infection can lead to severe consequences, yet many women opt to take no medications during pregnancy.

The chance of giving birth to a baby with a birth defects is about three percent. #


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