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Antibiotic Use By Pregnant Women Bad

Results of a recent study published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology suggests antibiotics should be avoided or at least keep to a minimum by pregnant women.

Researchers warn infants born to women who received prenatal antibiotics may be difficult to treat if they develop sepsis, a potentially life-threatening bacterial infection that is treated with intravenous antibiotics.

The researchers evaluated medical records from over 8,500 infants and found 46 percent of the mothers received antibiotics before delivery. Overall, 96 infants developed sepsis of which 45 percent of the disease causing organisms were resistant to ampicillin -- a commonly used antibiotic which normally kills a broad range of bacteria. According to researchers, ampicillin resistance was significantly more common in infants whose mothers received antibiotics prenatally than in those whose mothers did not.

The researchers also note that some doctors routinely screen pregnant women for vaginal infections and, if necessary, treat them with antibiotics to reduce the chance that they will transmit infection to the infant. They say that there is "conflicting evidence regarding the benefit of such practice."

Source: American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology 1999;181: