Is It Safe to Take Antibiotics While You’re Pregnant?

taking antibiotics during pregnancy

During pregnancy, women have to take special care about what they put into their organisms, as all of these things can affect the baby’s development. That is particularly the case for medication – certain drugs should be simply avoided, some still require more research, while others are completely safe.

But, what about antibiotics? Should you be taking antibiotics during pregnancy?

Maternal Antibiotics and Child Infection

A recent study published in the International Journal of Epidemiology found that children whose mothers were taking antibiotics during pregnancy were 20% more likely to be hospitalized because of an infection. An even greater risk was perceived among children whose mothers were prescribed more than one antibiotic or were taking them closer to giving birth.

The study examined more than 750,000 pregnancies in Denmark from 1997 to 2009 and found that one in every five pregnant women were prescribed antibiotics. Earlier studies also support these claims.

Vaginal Delivery vs. Caesarean Section

The research also found that babies born vaginally were at a higher risk of infection than babies born by C-section. Scientists believe that this could be because of the mother’s gut bacteria. Babies born via a Caesarean section get a microbiome from the hospital environment and their mother’s skin, while vaginally born babies acquire a microbiome from their mother’s gut.

Gastrointestinal infections are the biggest concern for children and taking antibiotics before conception can also contribute to the increased risk of infection.

The Bottom Line

While antibiotics are still the best way to fight a bacterial infection, taking them while you’re pregnant could increase the newborn’s risk of infection. Consult your doctor if you have concerns about taking antibiotics during pregnancy.