Antibiotics During Pregnancy: Understanding the Side Effects, Risks, and Uses

Will the consumption of antibiotics during pregnancy harm your baby or are you advised to take it during pregnancy? What would be the risks involved? Antibiotics have been used over a thousands of years to treat infections affecting the human body.

It was only until the last century that people got to know that most infections were caused by bacteria. Early civilizations used plant extracts to treat infections. The growth in medical science has enabled a straight way of treating infections such as pneumonia and diarrhea.


What are Antibiotics?

Antibiotics are powerful drugs that fight certain types of infections when used properly. In simple, terms, they either curtail bacteria from spreading or destroy them completely. In cases when the immune system cannot fight excessive bacteria, antibiotics comes in handy.

Improper Use of Antibiotics:

If people abuse antibiotics or tend to use them incorrectly, there are high risks that the bacteria in your body may become resistant to it. This means that the bacteria would not respond to any antibiotic you consume in the long run. Sometimes, antibiotics are prescribed to prevent any infection rather than treating it, mostly before a surgery.

Antibiotics Side Effects:

Most side effects of antibiotics affect the digestive system. Some of the side effects include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • White patches on tongue
  • Allergic reactions such as  swelling of lips, face or tongue and short breath

Note: The most common side effects of antibiotics affect the digestive system.

Antibiotics that can be Taken During Pregnancy:

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Note: There are certain antibiotics that pose potential risks during pregnancy. One such harmful antibiotic is tetracycline’s. This drug is can discolor a developing baby’s teeth. Tetracycline’s is not recommended after the mother has completed her 15th week of pregnancy.

Antibiotics that are Not Safe During Pregnancy:

According to a recent study by Canadian Medical Association Journal, antibiotics such as macrolides, quinolones, tetracyclines, sulfonamides and metronidazole led to high risk in miscarriage.

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Study Proves Antibiotics Are Risk To Fetus:

Antibiotics may be required for a particular health problem even during pregnancy. The risk differs from antibiotic to antibiotic. But in most cases people who take antibiotics are subjected to a lot of complications. Some of the rare side effects of antibiotics during pregnancy include:

  • Jaundice
  • Damage to the fetal joint development
  • Discoloration of fetal teeth.

The risks will differ according to the type of antibiotic taken during pregnancy. The consumption of antibiotics during pregnancy increases the risks of jaundice, discoloration of fetal teeth and also damages the fetal cartilage.

According to Murdoch Children’s Research Institute and Aarhus University, researchers believe that antibiotic medication can harm the fetus and disturb the mothers microbiome. The study also stated that women who took antibiotics during pregnancy have children who have 20 percent higher risk of being hospitalised with infections.

The above results were based on a sample size of 7,00,000 children taken into the study. The study found that, Vaginally born babies are safe from infections, while cesarean born babies get a microbiome (protection against germs) from the hospital environment.

Common Causes of Infections During Pregnancy:

Infections during pregnancy is a common problem and thus it must be treated in an appropriate manner. Unnecessary Consumption of antibiotics can have a major impact on the future generation.  Generally birth effects associated with the intake of antibiotics include:

1) Anencephaly:

Anencephaly is a deficiency that happens during the fetus formation. Once the baby is born, it may not have a skull over the back of the head. In some cases, babies may not a skull around the front and sides of the head. Anencephaly is considered as a fatal malfunction of the skull and the brain. It is a condition that is occurs at birth that affects the formation of the brain and the skull bone. This results in minimal development of the brain for the fetus. The infant suffering from this deficiency can survive for few hours, days or even weeks.

2) Choanal Atresia:

It is a deficiency that happens due to consumption of antibiotics during pregnancy wherein the fetuses nasal airway get blocked in the process of formation. It is a condition that happens by birth. This condition is more common among female infants. This is mostly diagnosed shortly after birth.

3) Congenital Limb Defects/Abnormalities:

This type of defect usually occurs when the upper part or lower part of your limb fails to form normally during fetus formation. This usually happens when the baby is developing in the uterus. This could possibly be the worst nightmare for a parent with a huge expectation for a healthy child.

4) Diaphragmatic Hernia:

This usually occurs when the abdominal organs move upwards into your chest region through a small opening in the diaphragm. This is again found after the baby is born or sometimes later in life.

5) Congenital Heart Defects:

Congenital heart disease happens as a result of an early developmental problem in the heart’s structure. The defect interferes with the normal flow of blood through the heart, which may affect breathing.

6) Cleft Palate:

A cleft palate is a facial disorder and an oral malfunction that occurs very early during pregnancy. Clefting usually happens when there is not enough tissue in the mouth or lip area and the tissue does not join together. In simple terms, a cleft is a separation in the upper lip that and appears as if there is a gap on the upper lip.

An antibiotic may be prescribed to prevent infection spreading to various parts of your body. In certain cases pregnant woman are given antibiotics depending on the infection prevalent in the body.

In this case, you need to consult your doctor to know if you can continue taking antibiotics without damaging the fetus. Moreover, just because these fetal attacks happened in the past, it doesn’t mean that it will happen again.

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