Antibiotics during pregnancy: certain medications can cause more harm than others

The use of antibiotics during pregnancy is not completely uncommon, but some types of antibiotics may be causing more harm to the mother and fetus than to others.

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Obstetric and gynecological care providers regularly face the dilemma of prescribing antibiotics to pregnant women, as there are some studies that show links between the use of antibiotics during pregnancy and complications during and after birth.

In situations like these, the potential benefits of the antibiotic should be weighed against the risk posed to the fetus. It is also important to take into account the dose and duration of the medication.

According to the Mayo Clinic, certain antibiotics are generally considered safe to use during pregnancy. These include:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Clindamycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Penicillin
  • Nitrofurantoin

The US Food and Drug Administration has a list of Pharmaceutical Pregnancy Categories that can help measure prenatal drug safety. Drugs have been classified into categories A, B, C, D and X with category A, safe for use in pregnant women, while those under category X have been harmful to fetuses.

According to the National Institutes of Health, some of the commonly used antibiotics to be avoided during pregnancy are:

  • Streptomycin and kanamycin – can cause hearing loss.
  • Tetracycline – can lead to weakening, hypoplasia and discoloration of bones and long teeth.

Consult a health professional before taking any medication is highly recommended during pregnancy. Professionals are in a better position to measure the need for antibiotics and may prescribe doses that will keep any possible harm to a minimum.