Is it safe to take antibiotics during pregnancy?
Answer From Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.
Antibiotics are commonly prescribed during pregnancy. The specific medication must be chosen carefully, however. Some antibiotics are OK to take during pregnancy, while others are not. Safety depends on various factors, including the type of antibiotic, when in your pregnancy you take the antibiotic, how much you take, what possible effects it might have on your pregnancy and for how long you're on antibiotics.
Here's a sampling of antibiotics generally considered safe during pregnancy:
- Penicillins, including amoxicillin, ampicillin
- Cephalosporins, including cefaclor, cephalexin
Certain other antibiotics are believed to pose risks during pregnancy. For example, tetracyclines can discolor a developing baby's teeth. Tetracyclines aren't recommended for use after the 15th week of pregnancy.
If an antibiotic is the best way to treat your condition, your health care provider will prescribe the safest antibiotic at the safest dosage. If you have questions or concerns about the use of an antibiotic during pregnancy, talk to your health care provider.
Yvonne Butler Tobah, M.D.
Oct. 10, 2017
- Schaefer C, et al., eds. Anti-infective agents. In: Drugs During Pregnancy and Lactation: Treatment Options and Risk Assessment. 3rd ed. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Elsevier B.V.; 2015. https://www.clinicalkey.com. Accessed Aug. 25, 2017.
- Muanda FT, et al. Use of antibiotics during pregnancy and risk of spontaneous abortion. CMAJ. 2017;189:625.
- American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists Committee on Obstetric Practice. Committee Opinion No. 717: Sulfonamides, nitrofurantoin, and risk of birth defects. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2017;130:150.