It is common for pregnant women to experience urinary tract infections (UTIs). Now the U.S. health officials has warned that it the antibiotics used to treat these infections can affect pregnant women and their unborn babies.
READ ALSO: Tips on Preventing Urinary Tract Infections
The report was published Jan. 12 in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
The officials has linked these antibiotics to a small risk of birth defects in pregnant women when administered in the first trimester. They include;
- Trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (Bactrim)
- Nitrofurantoin (Macrobid)
According to a new report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, despite the risk, many pregnant women are still getting these antibiotics.
Elizabeth Ailes, a health scientist at the CDC and lead author of the report said;
“Birth defects linked with these drugs include heart, brain and facial defects. A 3 percent risk of birth defects is associated with all pregnancies, she said. “The increased risks associated with these antibiotics is relatively small, but significant.”
Ailes reported that it is vital for women to be informed because regardless of the small risk in birth defects, treatment is really essential because untreated UTIs can have serious penalties for both the mom and the baby.”
READ ALSO: Urinary Tract Infection (UTI)
When UTIs are left untreated, they can lead to babies born at a low birth weight, babies born prematurely and the development of body-wide infections that can be deadly, she said.
Dr. Jill Rabin, chief of ambulatory care, obstetrics and gynecology and head of urogynecology at Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y., says, that if a UTI can be cured only with either of these medications, they need to be used regardless of the small risk involved.
According to Rabin, these antibiotics like any other drug, should be prescribed at the lowest effective dose.
In 2011, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommended in that such medications be prescribed in the first trimester of pregnancy only when other drugs would not be a proper treatment, according to the CDC report.
Rabin added that the problem is, “we don’t know if these medications were prescribed appropriately based on adjusting the dose and type of antibiotic and on the particular bacteria causing the infection.”
“A number of early studies have indicated that expert guidelines do not always find their way into bedside practice,” said Dr. Michael Grosso, chief medical officer at Huntington Hospital in Huntington, N.Y.
Grosso said one reason for this is the cumulative volume of medical research, offering new information to any physician. ALSO, he said that doctors may disagree with a guideline.
“Although a physician may avoid these medications when he knows a patient is pregnant, he may not take the trouble of ordering pregnancy testing before every prescription, hence leaving open the door to unintentional use in the setting of pregnancy,” Grosso said.
Concerned pregnant patients should ask their doctor if prescribed drugs are safe, he advised.
For their research, Ailes and her colleagues analyzed data on nearly 483,000 women who were pregnant in 2014 and covered by employer-sponsored insurance. The data came from the MarketScan Commercial Database.
Rabin was unsure whether the data was representative of prescriptions given all pregnant women or whether the result that these medications were commonly prescribed applied only to those represented in the database.
“I think it’s early to draw a full conclusion with this study,” Rabin said.
Article source: Webmd
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