Amoxicillin and Pregnancy

Amoxicillin and Pregnancy

Amoxicillin is an antibiotic of the penicillin group, and is generally considered safe to be used during pregnancy. However, there are not enough human studies to determine the effects of amoxicillin on the fetus. So, scroll down to discover more about this antibiotic.
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Along with amoxicillin, ampicillin, clindamycin, erythromycin, and penicillin are usually considered safe to be used by pregnant women. But antibiotics like doxycycline, minocycline, and tetracycline are usually not prescribed to pregnant women.
During pregnancy, the main concern of an expectant mother is the safety of her child, and so, she tries to make sure that whatever she eats or drinks is not going to affect the unborn child adversely. The same goes for medications as well. During pregnancy, a woman becomes particularly cautious while taking medications.
Nevertheless, certain conditions may necessitate the use of medications during pregnancy. But there is no need to freak out as all medications do not affect the developing fetus adversely. Women usually become more susceptible to develop urinary tract infections during pregnancy, which may call for the use of antibiotics. One of the most common antibiotics used for treating infections of the urinary tract is amoxicillin.
Along with urinary tract infections, this antibiotic is also employed for treating upper respiratory infections, pneumonia, ear infections, gonorrhea, and tooth infections. So, let's find out whether this medicine can be taken during pregnancy. But before doing so, let's take a look at how drugs or medications can affect the growth of an unborn fetus.
How Drugs Affect the Fetus
Different drugs can have different effects on the developing fetus. Drugs taken by the mother enter the fetus through the placenta, the same route through which nutrients from the mother's body reach the fetus. Some medications affect the fetus directly and cause abnormal growth, while others impair the exchange of oxygen and nutrients between the fetus and the mother by constricting the blood vessels of the placenta.
On the other hand, there are some drugs that can cause contractions of the uterine muscles, which can reduce the supply of blood to the fetus. The effects of various medications on the fetus depend on the stage of development, the dose of the drug, and for how long the drug has been taken. The fetus is more susceptible to birth defects between 17 to 57 days following fertilization, as this is the period when major organs develop.
Is Amoxicillin Safe During Pregnancy?
Amoxicillin is available as capsules, syrup, oral suspension, and also as chewable tablets. This antibiotic is usually considered safe to be used during pregnancy. It belongs to the pregnancy category B of the FDA. Animal studies have not revealed any adverse effect of amoxicillin on the fetus, but no human studies are available in this regard. However, no relation has been established between the intake of amoxicillin and pregnancy-related complications like miscarriages or birth defects.
Animal studies using almost 10 times the normal human dosage have failed to demonstrate any adverse effect of this drug on embryonic development. Although the effects of this antibiotic in pregnant women have not been studied properly, the available case reports have not suggested any teratogenicity or adverse fetal effects.
A controlled clinical trial carried out on the treatment of gonorrhea in 14 pregnant women during the first 14 weeks of pregnancy did not observe any significant increase in the frequency of anomalies in their children. This antibiotic was also given to 57 women after 14 weeks of gestation, and no major or minor abnormalities were observed in their children. Another Danish study, which was carried out in 401 pregnant women, could not find any increase in the risk of birth defects, or other adverse effects on the fetus.
So, this antibiotic is largely considered safe for pregnant women on the basis of animal studies. A physician always weighs the potential risks and benefits of a medicine before prescribing it. So, your physician will prescribe amoxicillin, if the potential risks to the fetus outweigh the potential benefits. Moreover, this drug is prescribed for a bacterial infection, and an untreated infection may pose more risks to the fetus than the risks associated with an exposure to this antibiotic.
Conditions Where Amoxicillin May not be Safe for You
Amoxicillin is a member of the penicillin group of antibiotics. So, if you are allergic to penicillin and other members of the penicillin family, do not take this drug. If your physician prescribes an antibiotic of the penicillin family, then let him or her know that you are allergic to penicillin. Other than amoxicillin, other commonly used antibiotics that belong to the penicillin family, or are related to penicillin are:

Cephalosporin
Ampicillin
Dicloxacillin
Oxacillin
Flucloxacillin
Penicillin G
Penicillin V
Pregnant women should never take amoxicillin without consulting their physicians, if they have the following health problems:

Asthma
Kidney and liver diseases
A history of diarrhea caused by the intake of antibiotics
Mononucleosis
Glandular fever
Any type of allergy, including an allergy to certain ingredients found in medicines.
More About Pregnancy Categories
The FDA has categorized all drugs into five pregnancy categories - A, B, C, D, and X. For drugs belonging to the pregnancy category A, well-controlled human studies have not found any potential risk to the developing fetus. Pregnancy category B implies that animal studies have not demonstrated any risk, but human studies are not available, or animal studies have shown some adverse effects on the fetus, but well-controlled human studies have not observed any risk to the fetus in any trimester.
For drugs belonging to the pregnancy category C, animal studies have demonstrated an adverse effect on the fetus, but so far, human studies are not available. But still, potential benefits may warrant the use of the drug during pregnancy. Pregnancy category D drugs are those, which have been observed to pose risks to the fetus, but still, they can be used if the potential benefits outweigh the potential risks. The last category, category X is known to cause fetal abnormalities, as observed in animal and human studies. The use of these medications during pregnancy is not recommended, as the risks involved clearly outweigh any potential benefit.
When antibiotics like amoxicillin are used, they can destroy the beneficial bacteria present in the intestine and the vagina, along with the harmful bacteria that cause the infection. This can sometimes increase the risk of developing vaginal yeast infections. Therefore, women should talk to their physicians to know more about the precautionary and preventive measures that can be taken to avoid vaginal infections while taking amoxicillin. Apart from these, amoxicillin can cause a few side effects like nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, and abdominal pain. If you experience any of these side effects, be sure to inform your physician.
Disclaimer: This article is for informative purposes only, and should not be treated as a substitute for professional medical advice.