According to the new study, two types of commonly prescribed antibiotics do not affect the development of the child if antibiotics are taken during pregnancy. About 40 percent of pregnant women are prescribed antibiotics at some point before their due date, another study found.
But clinicians are reluctant in prescribing the medications to pregnant women because of the side-effects. Both doctors and researchers are concerned that pregnancy antibiotics may be a cause of congenital defect.
Anick Bérard, senior author of the study and researcher at the University of Montreal in Canada, explained that the mentioned antibiotics, also known as macrolides, along with penicillin are the most popular medicines prescribed by doctors in all kinds of bacterial infections.
But there is an ongoing controversy on the drugs’ side effects and their link with birth defects. Past studies were not able to clarify whether congenital defects were caused by pregnancy antibiotics or by the conditions the drugs tried to cure.
Dr. Bérard’s team planned to get to the bottom of this issue. After they sifted through data on babies exposed to two common macrolides while they were still in their mothers’ wombs, researchers said that pregnancy antibiotics are not tied to birth defects.
The team based their findings on data provided by the Quebec Pregnancy Cohort. The cohort includes medical data on more than 135,000 former and actula pregant women and their newborns. The data on antibiotic use during pregnancy were taken from a national pharmaceutical insurance program.
Scientists were interested in the use of two popular drugs, azithromycin and clarithromycin, and their effects on the unborn child. The outcomes were later compared with the health outcomes of penicillin taken during pregnancy. Statistical models showed that there was no statistically significant association between the two drugs and congenital malformations.
According to the study’s data of the nearly 136,000 pregnancies, 1.7 percent were exposed to one of the two drugs, and close to 10 percent of pregnancies had a major birth defect.
Researchers explained that there may be other factors that cause the negative outcomes on the newborns. For instance, azithromycin is heavily prescribed to treat chlamydia, STD that was linked by past studies with higher risk of birth defects.
On the other hand, study authors believe that more work needs to be done before saying that less-common antibiotics are safe.
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