Can Antibiotics Cause Birth Defects?
Being pregnant has never been a specific reason to avoid using antibiotics, but after a recent study measuring antibiotics use and the incidence of birth defects, concerned doctors and parents may reconsider their position.
Taking antibiotics during a pregnancy can increase the risks of birth defects in a child, according to a recent study released by the National Center on Birth defects and Developmental Disabilities, which was published in the Archives of Pediatric & Adolescent Medicine. Most antibiotic drugs have not been tested for their effects on and safety toward developing infants, but about 30 percent of women take at least one course of antibiotics between three months before conception and the day of delivery.
The National Birth Defects Prevention Study is an ongoing process of data collection, and was used to analyze antibiotic consumption in over 13,000 women who had given birth to a child with at least one birth defect, and 5,000 women who had given birth to a child with no defects. The results are a scary reminder to take antibiotics only when absolutely necessary.
The two antibiotics families that were most strongly linked with birth defects are nitrofurantoin and sulfonamide (ï¿½sulfaï¿½) drugs. Children born with fatal skull and brain malformation had mothers who were three times more likely to have taken a sulfa drug than women who had not taken a sulfa drug and whose children did not have a birth defect.
Sulfa drugs were also associated with a higher risk of respiratory problems such as abnormal diaphragm openings and blocked nasal passages; heart defects such as abnormally narrow aorta or underdeveloped left side of the heart; and shortened or missing limb bones. A cleft palate or cleft lip was a defect twice as likely to be found in the children of women who had taken nitrofurantoins.
The nitro family was also linked to congenital heart defects, eye defects, and babies being born missing one or both eyes. Penicillin use was associated with a higher risk of limb malformation, while the antibiotics erythromycin, cephalosporins and quinolones were all associated with a higher risk of one to two specific abnormalities each.
The research suggests that women should avoid taking nitrofurantoins and sulfonamides whenever possible, even if not pregnant or trying to become pregnant. The risks of taking antibiotics are seemingly increasing as research exposes the dark side of these ï¿½miracleï¿½ drugs. Keeping your body and immune system healthy could prevent you from ever needing to take another antibiotic, so be sure to eat fresh whole foods, get enough rest, and practice moderate exercise and positive thought daily.