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CDC Study Links 2 Antibiotics to Birth Defects
Date:11/2/2009

No added risk was found, however, for most commonly used infection-fighters,,

MONDAY, Nov. 2 (HealthDay News) -- Taking antibiotics during pregnancy does not raise the risk for most birth defects, though there are some exceptions, new research has found.

Penicillin, which is the most commonly used antibiotic during pregnancy, as well as erythromycin, cephalosporins and quinolones, other widely prescribed antibiotics, were not associated with increased risk for about 30 different birth defects.

However, the study found that two types of antibiotics were linked with a higher risk for several birth defects: nitrofurantoins and sulfonamides, sometimes called "sulfa drugs," which are prescribed for urinary tract and other infections.

Women whose children had anencephaly, a fatal malformation of the skull and brain, were three times more likely to have taken sulfonamides, the study found. Sulfonamides were also tied to an increased risk for such heart defects as hypoplastic left heart syndrome and coarctation of the aorta, choanal atresia (a blockage of the nasal passage), transverse limb deficiency and diaphragmatic hernia, an abnormal opening in the diaphragm that results in severe breathing difficulties.

Nitrofurantoins were also associated with multiple birth defects, including anophthalmia and microphthalmos (eye defects) and several congenital heart defects. Mothers whose children were born with a cleft lip or cleft palate were twice as likely to have taken nitrofurantoins, the study found.

But pregnant women should not be overly worried if they need an antibiotic to treat an infection during pregnancy, stressed the study's lead author, Krista Crider, a geneticist with the National Center on Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities, part of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"The most important message is that most commonly used antibiotics do not seem
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