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

to be associated with the birth defects we studied," Crider said.

The findings are published in the November issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Crider and her colleagues analyzed data on more than 13,000 women whose babies had one of more than 30 birth defects, including cleft palate, heart or limb defects and anencephaly. They compared the women's rates of antibiotic usage, from the month leading up to pregnancy through the end of the first trimester, with that of almost 5,000 women whose children did not have a birth defect. The data was culled from the National Birth Defects Prevention Study, which began in 1997 and includes about 30,000 women from 10 states.

Information on the impact of many prescription drugs on developing fetuses is sorely lacking, Crider pointed out. Much of that stems from the fact that ethical considerations preclude conducting drugs trials in pregnant women, she said.

Though many antibiotics have been used safely for decades, resistant strains of bacteria are forcing doctors to use a wider array of antibiotics. For some, little data exist.

The researchers found that about 30 percent of women took an antibiotic between the three months prior to conception and the end of the pregnancy.

Even antibiotics that generally were safe were found to be associated with a few specific birth defects. Women whose babies were born with a certain type of limb malformation were three times more likely to have taken penicillin. Erythromycin, cephalosporins and quinolones were also associated with an increased risk for one or two specific birth defects.

However, the researchers said they did not know if the birth defects were caused by the antibiotics or the underlying infection.

One expert said women need to remember the good antibiotics can do mom and baby, as well. Though many pregnant women want to avoid taking any drugs during pregnancy, inf
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