Researchers could not link antibiotics use during pregnancy with birth defects

A study published in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology by a team of Canadian researchers indicate that they could not establish any links between common antibiotics taking during pregnancy and elevated risks of birth defects.

Over 135,000 pregnant women in the Quebec province were recruited to participate in the study, and 25% of them were given antibiotics containing clanthromycin and azithromycin, two drugs belonging to the macrolides class of drugs.

Macrolides and penicillin are the most common form of antibiotics given to pregnant women; but researchers continue to analyze if it is macrolides that put babies at risk of birth defects or other infections.

Professor of pharmacy at the University of Montreal, Anick Berard, disclosed that the team of researchers aimed to analyze the relative risks of congenital deformations for fetuses exposed to clanthromycin and azithromycin among other causes, but no such links could be found.

The researchers went on to explain that the raging argument concerning the safety of macrolides and the possibility of associated birth defects to babies stemmed from a number of factors that were not considered. One of these is the fact that azithromycin is often prescribed to treat Chlamydia – infections that have been linked with birth defects.

The authors of the study noted that it is necessary to further analyze the safety of antibiotics that are prescribed less often to pregnant women, while determining whether they have any links to birth defects.

About 1.7% pregnant women in the study took macrolides during their first trimester, but nearly 10% of women outside this study group have birth defects with their babies. The researchers cleared the listed antibiotics of any effects on unborn babies, adding they are safe to inject during pregnancy.

They also added that while no links could be established between macrolides use and congenital risks, the same thing could not be said of penicillin. It is however advised that pregnant women should not do self-medication, but must always consult with their doctors before taking any medications or antibiotics, and report back to physicians if they experience any side effects with prescribed antibiotics. This will prevent the abnormal development of babies in the womb.