Anick Bérard, lead author of the study and researcher with the University of Montreal, said that her team analyzed the antibiotics called macrolides to learn whether they were responsible for changes in the development of the unborn child. Macrolides and penicillin are the most commonly prescribed drugs in fighting off bacterial infections.
But researchers were concerned that the antibiotics may raise risk of negative prgancy outcomes including birth defects. The research team wanted to asses the risk by exposing unborn children to macrolides. The team reported that they didn’t find any antibiotic-related congenital defect in children.
Scientists based their analysis on data provided by the Quebec Pregnancy Cohort, which is one of the planet’s largest cohorts that contain data on hundreds of thousands of pregnancies and outcomes for both mothers and children.
Data on antibiotic use were gathered from Canada’s public insurance program. Researchers were especially interested in moms that took clarithromycin and azithromycin during pregnancy. The data was later compared with penicillin use, which is considered a safer antibiotic.
In their study researchers assessed risk of congenital risk in 135,839 pregnancies. While only 1.7 percent of expecting mothers took macrolides in the first trimester, nearly 10 percent of pregnancies resulted in major birth defects in children. But scientists said that they found no statistically significant association between macrolide use and congenital risk when their compared results with penicillin use.
Researchers noted that doctors are reluctant in prescribing the two drugs to pregnant women because they think that they may lead to birth defects. But, azithromycin, for instance, is usually prescribed to treat chlamydia, a sexually transmitted infection that was often associated with birth defects in the scientific literature.
So the problem may not rely with the antibiotics but with the conditions they try to treat. Nevertheless, study authors recommend more research to be done on less common antibiotics to confirm their safety.
Clarithromycin is commonly prescribed to patients that are affected by bacterial infections. Doctors recommend it in treating skin and respiratory infections, but it is also a widely used medication to treat stomach ulcers triggered by a bacterium called Helicobacter pylori.
Azithromycin is also prescribed in bacterial infections including ear and skin infections, and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).
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