Pregnant women who are taking macrolide antibiotics are putting their unborn child at risk of birth defects, according to a new study published in BMJ. Macrolides are typically prescribed to women during the first three months of pregnancy.
What are Macrolide Antibiotics?
Macrolides are a class of antibiotics. They include the following common anti-bacterial drugs:
Your doctor may prescribe this drug if you are being treated for community-acquired pneumonia. It is also given if you have H. pylori, acute non-specific urethritis, and chlamydia.
These antibiotics are given as an alternative to patients who cannot take penicillin and cephalosporin because they are allergic to these drugs.
What did the New Study suggest Regarding Macrolide Antibiotics?
Macrolides are deemed safe. But a new study seemed to contradict their safety.
The study, published in the medical journal BMJ, suggested that pregnant women who were given this type of antibiotic had increased risk of birth defects.
The researchers analyzed the data collected from over 100,000 children in the UK.
The cases were from 1990 to 2016. These children were born to mothers who took macrolides or penicillin during their pregnancy.
The results of the study suggested that there is a link between the risk of birth defects and macrolide usage during the first three months of pregnancy. The birth defects could include heart problems.
Does the Study Suggest that Macrolide Antibiotics Cause Birth Defects?
The findings of the study were observational. In that case, the study does not conclude that macrolides could cause birth defects.
Then again, the findings just added the increasing concerns regarding the use of antibiotics and other drugs during pregnancy.
The authors of the study stated that doctors must consider alternatives to these antibiotics, especially for pregnant women.
The study also proposed that pregnant women should avoid taking macrolides antibiotics. Instead, they must use alternative antibiotics.
Why Most Pregnant Women Take Antibiotic?
It is common for pregnant women to take anti-bacterial drugs. The reason for this is that pregnant women are prone to infection.
Scientists failed to identify reasons why pregnancy affects the immune function of pregnant women.
However, health experts suggest that the changes in hormone levels can make the immune function more vulnerable to infections.
During pregnancy, your immune system also changes. It does so to protect you and the baby from any diseases.
With these changes, some parts of the immune system are suppressed while others are enhanced. This is vital to create a balance.
It also prevents infection in the baby without having to affect the health of the mother.
The changes also protect the baby from the mother’s defenses. Theoretically, if you are pregnant, your body should reject your baby because it is considered foreign.
However, your immune system changes to ensure that it will not reject your unborn child. It allows your immune system to consider your baby as part of the body and not foreign.
Unfortunately, it puts you at risk of infections because of the changes in your protective mechanisms.
Your IS will have to work harder to support you and your unborn child. As a result, it puts you at risk of infections.
How to Prevent Infections When You are Pregnant?
Indeed, some drugs can treat infections during pregnancy. Yet, with the recent study suggesting that macrolides could increase the risk of birth defects, it might be best for you to prevent infections from occurring in the first place.
You can prevent infections by taking some precautionary measures. Here are some things you can do:
Wash Your Hands Regularly
You should wash your hands with antibacterial soap and water. Each time you use the bathroom or prepare raw meat and vegetables, you need to wash your hands after doing it.
When you play with kids, you must clean and wash your hands. If you cannot wash your hands with clean soap and water, though, you may use alcohol.
Avoid Eating Undercooked Meats
Eating meat can put you at risk of developing an infection, especially if the meat is undercook. If you are used to eating medium-rare steak, you must avoid it, at least for the duration of your pregnancy.
Undercooked meats may contain Campylobacteria, Salmonella, Clostridium perfringens, and other harmful organisms.
When you prepare raw meat before cooking it, you must not wash them. Washing can help spread the bacteria to other utensils, surfaces, and foods. Washing also does not prevent illness.
Instead, you must thoroughly cook the meat to kill bacteria. Ideally, you use a cooking thermometer to properly check the temperature. Keep in mind that the color or juices of the meat will not tell you whether or not it is thoroughly cooked.
If you have leftovers, make sure that you refrigerate them within two hours after preparation.
The study did not conclude that macrolide antibiotics could cause birth defects. Nevertheless, it is still best that you keep yourself healthy while pregnant. Make sure to eat healthy food and exercise regularly. Avoid things that can put you at risk of infection.