The findings of the largest investigation of its type give the all-clear to macrolide antibiotic use during pregnancy. According to the investigation’s findings, macrolides do not negatively influence the unborn child’s development.
Antibiotic use during pregnancy has been much discussed. Could we finally have a definitive answer?
Thousands of pregnant women across America are prescribed antibiotics during their term; around 4 out of 10 expectant mothers will use them at some point during their pregnancy.
Along with penicillin, macrolide antibiotics are the most commonly used medications in the general population, including pregnant women.
Macrolides are a group of drugs, generally antibiotics, which include erythromycin, fidaxomicin, azithromycin and clarithromycin. They have a slightly wider antimicrobial spectrum than penicillin and can be used in cases where a penicillin allergy is present.
The current study was led by Anick Bérard, PhD, of the University of Montreal in Canda and its affiliated CHU Sainte-Justine Children’s Hospital, and Hedvig Nordeng, of the University of Oslo in Norway.
The team looked at macrolides and their potential adverse pregnancy outcomes, including birth defects. Bérard says:
“With penicillin, macrolides are amongst the most used medications in the general population and in pregnancy. However, debate remained on whether it is the infections or, in fact, the macrolides used to treat them that put women and their unborn child at greater risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes, including birth defects.”
Previous investigations into macrolide safety during pregnancy have produced contradictory results. Some studies have claimed an association between macrolides and cardiovascular malformations. Other studies have drawn links between the use of macrolides during pregnancy and an elevated chance of epilepsy and/or cerebral palsy.
These findings and others in the same vein have led to an avoidance of prescribing macrolides to pregnant women in several Scandinavian countries.