New study finds link between certain antibiotics during pregnancy and risk for birth defects

A new study has found links between certain antibiotics during pregnancy and major congenital malformations in newborns.

The study included an analysis of information on 139,938 live births in Quebec, Canada, between 1998 and 2008. Clindamycin, doxycycline, quinolones, macrolides, and phenoxymethylpenicillin were linked to organ-specific malformations. Amoxicillin, cephalosporins, and nitrofurantoin were not associated with birth defects.

Although the absolute risks for birth defects were small, physicians should consider prescribing other antibiotics when treating patients with infections during pregnancy.

"Infections during pregnancy are frequent and should be treated; however, our study highlights safer options for the treatment of infections, more specifically urinary tract infections or pulmonary infections, at least during the first trimester of pregnancy," said Dr. Anick Bérard, senior author of the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology study.

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