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Azithromycin While Pregnant

azithromycin while pregnant


This factsheet has been written for members of the public by the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS). UKTIS is a not-for-profit organisation funded by Public Health England on behalf of UK Health Departments. UKTIS has been providing scientific information to health care providers since 1983 on the effects that medicines, recreational drugs and chemicals may have on the developing baby during pregnancy.

Is it safe to take antibiotics during pregnancy?

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
  • Erythromycin
  • Clindamycin

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.

Azithromycin Pregnancy Warnings

Animal models given moderately maternally toxic doses have failed to reveal evidence of feto- or teratogenicity. There are no controlled data in human pregnancy.

AU TGA pregnancy category B1: Drugs which have been taken by only a limited number of pregnant women and women of childbearing age, without an increase in the frequency of malformation or other direct or indirect harmful effects on the human fetus having been observed. Studies in animals have not shown evidence of an increased occurrence of fetal damage.

US FDA pregnancy category B: Animal reproduction studies have failed to demonstrate a risk to the fetus and there are no adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.

Use is not recommended unless clearly needed.

Azithromycin Precautions

Serious side effects have been reported with azithromycin including:

Hypersensitivity reaction: An allergic reaction to azithromycin is possible. Tell your healthcare provider right away if you have some or all of the following symptoms of an allergic reaction:

  • hives or rash
  • difficulty breathing or swallowing
  • swelling
  • hoarseness

Azithromycin should not be used for extended periods of time. Prolonged use can lead to the growth of dangerous organisms that are resistant to azithromycin. Take azithromycin for the duration prescribed by your doctor.

Clostridium difficile associated diarrhea: Azithromycin and other antibiotics can kill the “good” bacteria in the colon leading to a growth of C. difficile bacteria. C. difficile is “bad” bacteria that can cause diarrhea.

Heart rhythm changes: Azithromycin can cause abnormal changes in the electrical activity of the heart that may lead to a potentially life-threatening irregular heart rhythm. Tell your doctor if you have a history of any of the following:

  • existing heart rhythm problems called QT prolongation
  • low blood levels of potassium or magnesium
  • slower than normal heart rate
  • use of drugs for the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms or arrhythmias

Muscle problems: Azithromycin can worsen the symptoms of a muscle disease called myasthenia gravis. In addition, azithromycin can cause muscle weakness. Alert your doctor if you have a history of myasthenia gravis or experience the new muscle weakness.

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