Is It Safe To Take Antibiotics During Pregnancy?

Is It Safe To Take Antibiotics During Pregnancy?

In this article, we explore the safety of antibiotics while pregnant. We also have a list of antibiotics which you can take during pregnancy and those to avoid

According to the Independent a new study has found a certain kind of antibiotic that is often used in place of penicillin to be linked to some birth defects if taken during the first trimester of pregnancy. Those who need antibiotics while pregnant and cannot take penicillin due to allergy are given Macrolide antibiotics instead. But now experts have warned it should be used with caution, especially during the early stages of pregnancy. 

Taking antibiotics while pregnant

woman taking pills

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A broad range of medications fall within the class of antibiotics, which are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. Antibiotics are useful for either killing the bacteria or stopping them from reproducing.

Conditions such as bacterial vaginosis happen to pregnant women and can require antibiotic treatment. If left untreated, this condition can cause complications such as preterm labour or infection in the uterus.

However, not all antibiotics are completely safe, one of which is the group called macrolides. And nearly a third of women are prescribed antibiotics at some point in their pregnancies, with around one in 10 antibiotic prescriptions being for macrolides.

The study from University College London looked at data between 1990 to 2016. They checked if a potential link existed between macrolide antibiotics and defects at birth.

186 babies had major defects out of the 8,632 born to women who had taken macrolides during the first three months of their pregnancy. Women who took penicillin had 1,666 children out of 95,973 cases born with major defects.

However, after taking other factors into account, the study discovered 28 cases of defects in 1,000 children born to macrolide-taking mothers. While women who took penicillin had 18 cases of defects in 1,000. 

Antibiotics in pregnancy: which one is safe? 

Antibiotics and pregnancy: which one is safe?

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Antibiotics is an umbrella term under which many drugs can be classified. So it is next to impossible to group every single one of them. However, we will list some antibiotics commonly considered safe or unsafe during pregnancy. 


  • Amoxicillin
  • Ampicillin
  • Augmentin
  • Penicillin
  • Cephalexin
  • Clindamycin
  • Erythromycin
  • Cefaclor 
  • Cephalexin


  • Bactrim
  • Ciprofloxacin
  • Doxycycline
  • Furadantin
  • Macrobid
  • Macrodantin
  • Minocycline
  • Septra
  • Tetracycline
  • Quinolones, 
  • Sulfonamides
  • Metronidazole 
  • Macrolides

Talk to your doctor

talk to your doctor first

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Here are a few tips for when you visit the doctor: 

  • Tell your doctor about any medications you’re already taking before he prescribes new ones. In fact, carry the whole medication to the hospital for the doctor to see. 
  • Take the drugs exactly as the doctor prescribes it.
  • Avoid adding, reducing or stopping the medication halfway. This may cause the bacteria you’re trying to kill to become resistant. 
  • After finishing your drugs and you don’t feel better, call your doctor. Also, in the course of taking the drug and your body reacts abnormally, call your doctor.

These steps will go a long way in ensuring that you and your baby remain safe throughout your pregnancy. 

This article is written to promote awareness on antibiotics and their risks during pregnancy. It isn’t meant to replace professional diagnosis or treatment, which you can get directly from your doctor. Talk to your doctor before taking any medications during pregnancy. And to be safe, always remind your doctor that you’re pregnant when receiving medications or prescription.

Also read: How Does Antibiotics Resistance Happen?

Sources: Mayo Clinic, Healthline

Any views or opinions expressed in this article are personal and belong solely to the author; and do not represent those of theAsianparent or its clients.

Written by

Lydia Ume