Certain Antibiotics Linked to Early Miscarriage

Going to the doctor to be treated for a bacterial infection is never a walk in the park, but pregnant people might have an added risk when taking certain antibiotics for these types of infections, new research has shown. It turns out that a number of antibiotics are linked to an increased risk for “spontaneous abortion,” or a miscarriage before the 20 week mark. This is especially worrisome because bacterial infections are not uncommon during pregnancies.

A study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal revealed how antibiotic medications known as macrolides, quinolones, tetracyclines, sulfonamides and metronidazole are linked to the effect, while others carry a much smaller or no significant risk. Tetracyclines are also noted to cause permanently discolored teeth in the fetus and potential issues with bone growth.

Being prescribed antibiotics while pregnant is not a rare occurrence, with urinary tract infections being especially common. Antibiotics are a widely prescribed treatment for UTIs and there are some that are generally considered safe to prescribe to pregnant people, such as nitrofurantoin or penicillin. Making sure one is knowledgeable about which prescriptions carry higher risks than others can be helpful for those who know they are pregnant or think they could be pregnant.

Researchers from the University of Montreal, who carried out the study, poured over data from thousands of women ranging from age 15 to 45 in Quebec. They found that 16 percent of women who had miscarriages before 20 weeks had taken antibiotics during that time, compared to 13 percent from a control group. Azithromycin was found to correlate with a 65 percent increase in spontaneous abortion and clarithromycin increased the risk twofold. Shockingly, norfloxacin, a type of quinolone, was found to increase risk by four times.

There were some questions raised by the study, including how it did not account for potential genetic problems that could have accounted for the miscarriages. There was also no way of knowing if any undetectable prenatal defects or diagnoses contributed to the miscarriages (or, for that matter, whether the antibiotics exacerbated these defects). Future research on the subject will be helpful to round out these issues.

Overall, the research is a valuable piece of a growing volume of information regarding medications and how they interact with pregnancies. Physicians interviewed by WebMD encourage doctors and patients to seek the lowest dose of an antibiotic to treat an infection and only after all other avenues of treatment have been explored.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

49 comments

Jennifer Sanchez
Past Member 3 months ago

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Melania P
Melania P1 years ago

Thanks for sharing

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Leanne K
Leanne K2 years ago

If the antibiotics caused spontaneous miscarriage at 3 weeks, no ones the wiser. But that changes dramatically with the weeks. At 18 or 20 weeks, thats devastating

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Jerome S
Jerome S2 years ago

thanks

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Jim Ven
Jim V2 years ago

thanks for sharing.

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Ruth S
Ruth S2 years ago

Thanks

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william Miller
william Miller2 years ago

thanks

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Brittany M.
Brittany M.2 years ago

There are certain antibiotics that can cause miscarriage, that is why during pregnancy women should avoid self-medicating and as much as possible to consult your obgyn for any medication that you will be taking, When I got pregnant with the help of conceiveeasy, I developed uti for the entire pregnancy period that at one point my doc gave me antibiotics but it was only for 3 days. It was perfectly safe for me and my baby. She was born without any complications.

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Carl R
Carl R2 years ago

Thanks!!!

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Danuta W
Danuta Watola2 years ago

thank you for sharing

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