Now that you are pregnant, you know it is very important to avoid anything that may put your developing baby at risk. This includes all medications whenever possible. Actually, it is also best to avoid such exposures when you are trying to conceive.
Research shows that about 30 percent of women will be given at least one course of antibiotics between the three months prior to conception and the end of their pregnancies. So why should you avoid antibiotics before conception and during pregnancy?
1) Birth Defects
Some antibiotics are known to cause birth defects and are considered unsafe. Others are considered to be safe, but not for sure. It is not possible to study all possible risks to your baby.
What can you do? Stay healthy by eating well and keeping your stress levels low to prevent getting sick. Remember that viral infections should not be treated with antibiotics, so do not take them unnecessarily. Common bacterial infections during pregnancy include urinary tract infections and group B strep. Know your options for treatment. Avoid the use of metronidazole, nitrofurantoin, sulfamethoxazole/trimethoprim combination (Septra and Bactrim)
Urinary tract infections can often be resolved with simple measures if caught and addressed early. At the first signs, such as pain or urgency with urination, begin drinking lots of fluids. Unsweetened cranberry juice may help, but research shows that higher levels of the active factors are often needed. One of these factors is D-mannose, and can be taken as a supplement. See a good holistic physician for other options and to help you know when antibiotics are necessary for you. In some cases not treating your illness could be more risky than the antibiotic exposure.
But the fear of birth defects is not the only reason to avoid antibiotics.
2) Hearing loss
Streptomycin belongs to a class of antibiotics know as aminoglycosides. It can cause serious nerve damage, resulting in hearing loss. It is used to treat tuberculosis (TB) and other bacterial infections. Do not take this antibiotic during pregnancy.
3) Tooth discoloration
Tetracyclines (doxycycline and minocycline) taken in the second or third trimester of pregnancy can permanently discolor your baby’s teeth later in life. It also goes into your breast milk and may affect the tooth and bone development of your child while you are nursing. These antibiotics can also damage your liver while you are pregnant.
4) Asthma Risk
Research shows that children whose mothers took antibiotics during pregnancy may be more likely to develop asthma. It is not known if the asthma was due to the antibiotic or the infection. But we do know that antibiotics disturb the natural balance of the gut bacteria, and this does play a role in the development of asthma.
Healthy gut flora in the gastrointestinal tract is critically important to health and immune system function for all people. Children receive inoculation of this flora from their mother. Therefore, if you have taken antibiotics repeatedly in your life, or have to take them during pregnancy, you may be passing on sub optimal health to your child. Do what you can to maintain healthy gut flora, including avoiding antibiotics whenever possible.
Therefore keeping yourself healthy and avoiding medications before conception and during pregnancy is very important to help give your baby a healthy start in life. If an antibiotic is absolutely necessary, make sure your health care provider knows that you are pregnant and can help you find the safest choice and dose.