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News: November 9, 2009

Two Antibiotics Linked to Birth Defects

November 9, 2009

Most antibiotics used during pregnancy are safe, but researchers have found a link between two commonly prescribed drugs and birth defects.

The study, part of the National Birth Defects Prevention Study and published in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, is the first analysis of antibiotic use in pregnancy. Researchers analyzed data from 13,155 mothers in 10 states whose infants had birth defects and compared them to mothers in the same region who had healthy babies.

It found that mothers of babies with birth defects were more likely to report taking two types of antibiotics used to treat urinary tract infections during the first three months of pregnancy - sulfa drugs such as Bactrim and Septra, and nitrofurantoins, a urinary germicide that includes the brand names Furadantin, Macrobid, and Macrodantin.

Penicillin, the most commonly prescribed antibiotic in early pregnancy, was found to be safe, but was linked to a slightly increased risk for limb defects. Also found to be safe were cephalosporins and quinolones.

Lead author of the study, Krista Crider, a geneticist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said that this was the first study to find an association with the drugs and birth defects and additional studies are need to confirm the findings.

Sulfa drugs are the oldest antibiotics and some animal studies have found harm during pregnancy. The study found this group of drugs to be associated with six birth defects, more than any other class of antibiotic. Defects linked to sulfa drugs included rare brain and heart defects and shortened limbs. Anencephaly, a fatal brain and skull malformation linked to sulfa drugs, affects about 1 in 10,000 births in the United States per March of Dimes data.

Doctors have previously viewed nitrofurantoins as safe to treat urinary tract infections during pregnancy. The four defects most commonly linked with these medications included hypoplastic left heart syndrome, atrial septal defect, eye defects, and cleft lip and palate. Cleft palate occurs in about 20 births out of 10,000 and was twice as likely to occur with women who had taken the nitrofurantoins.

It is unclear whether the birth defects were caused by the drugs or by the infections being treated. Bacterial infections themselves can cause problems for the fetus if left untreated, including preterm birth, low birth weight and blindness, so pregnant women shouldn't avoid antibiotics entirely. Instead, women should discuss antibiotics choices with their doctors.

Additional Sources Include: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the March of Dimes



Archive issues: (50)

Archive list: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 [13] 14 15 16 17

November 8, 2009 | American Diabetes Association Launches Campaign to "Stop Diabetes"

How much do you know about diabetes? Many Americans do not know much about this disease that strikes someone every 20 seconds in the United States. That is one reason why the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has launched its "Stop Diabetes" campaign as part of American Diabetes Month.  According to the results of a survey ...

November 7, 2009 | Strong Immune Response by Healthy Pregnant Women to H1N1 Vaccine

An ongoing clinical trial finds that healthy pregnant women have a strong immune response after receiving just one dose of H1N1 influenza vaccine. The trial, which began on September 9, is sponsored by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease (NIAID) of the National Institutes of Health.  Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and its Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) recommend that ...

November 6, 2009 | Salt and diet soda can both take a toll on kidneys

Research from Brigham and Women's Hospital shows that salt and diet soda can take a toll on our kidneys. Consuming a high salt diet and artificially sweetened drinks was linked to greater kidney function declines over an eleven year period.  Women participating in the Nurses' Health Study were examined to find the association between diet soda and salt on kidney function decline, and included 3000 ...

Archive list: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 [13] 14 15 16 17

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