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Antibiotics linked to birth defects and miscarriage

During pregnancy, you receive so much advice. Don’t eat sushi, fish, deli meat, shellfish, raw eggs or soft cheeses, avoid that glass of wine and the list continues. But how much do these eating choices affect the health of your baby?

Medication mistakes during pregnancy can do much more harm. When it comes to treating an infection – for example, an UTI – it is important to seek treatment, but are certain antibiotics harmful? A Canadian team of researchers says the answer is yes.

How worrying are the results?

With any of these studies, consider where published, how many participants and the length of review. The study published in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology followed 139,938 pregnant mothers in Quebec from 1998 to 2008. They kept track of any antibiotic use in the first trimester of pregnancy and then kept following up with the mothers until their babies were one year old.

The same team of researchers published another study earlier this year that found a link between antibiotics and miscarriage.

Considering the methodology of the study and reputation of the research team, the results need to be taken seriously. The senior author said, “Infection itself is associated with adverse pregnancy outcomes, and they must be treated. Our study shows that we must think about which antibiotics to use.”

What were the results?

Avoid certain classes of powerful antibiotics during pregnancy, if possible. They included (and may be reminiscent of a chemistry class with the oxy- and macro- prefixes):

  • Quinolones – Ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, ofloxacin proverbially known as “floxies” that have lead to a new verb “floxed.” In Britain, this class of drugs comes with a warning to avoid taking during pregnancy.
  • Clindamycin – Associated with a 67 percent increase in musculoskeletal problems
  • Doxycycline – The risk for cardiac abnormalities more than doubled with use
  • Macrolides
  • Phenoxymethylpenicilin

Quinolones and macrolides have also been suggested triggers of miscarriage in previous studies.

These antibiotics work by killing friendly gut bacteria essential to a developing fetus. This can have a long-term effect and interfere with a baby’s immune system, according to experts as the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center.

Three antibiotics deemed safe

The study did find that there was no correlation between birth defects tied to these three antibiotics:

  • Amoxicillin
  • Cephalosporins
  • Nitrofurantion

Physicians who treat women during pregnancy need to stay up to date on the risks of certain medications. But as a consumer of medical services you need to be your own advocate as well. If a doctor or midwife discounts your concerns about a certain prescription, it may be time to seek a second opinion or even a new provider.

When the worst occurs and your baby suffers from a heart problem or another condition, you need to look back. Where you treated with antibiotics for an infection during your first trimester? Discuss your concerns with a medical malpractice attorney. Compensation may be available to offset your child’s medical costs as well as pain and suffering.

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