Amoxicillin during Pregnancy: Uses and Side Effects Every New Mom should know

on April 16, 2018

We are habitual of buying over-the-counter drugs for every small pain, cold, cough. Our patience levels have decreased a lot. We just want fast relief. But during pregnancy you have to be very careful about any drug you take. Infact, even your doctor will try to keep you away from any medicine as much as possible. As many drugs can be teratogenic.

Teratogenicity means the capacity of any drug to cause foetal abnormality. Placenta does act as barrier between mother and foetus, but is not such a strict barrier. Some amount of drug always crosses the placenta, leading to the adverse effects on the baby. Any drug may affect the foetus at 3 stages as follows

Amoxicillin during Pregnancy

1. Fertilization and implantation

some drugs interfere with the fertilization and implantation of the embryo. Due to which there is failure of pregnancy. This often goes unnoticed.

2. Organogenesis

Organogenesis means formation of organs. It usually takes place between 18-55 days. Drugs taken during this period may lead to failure in organ formation or may cause any deformity in organ.

Amoxicillin

3. Growth and developmental abnormality

after 56 days of pregnancy, drugs hamper with the growth and development of baby.

So it is usually best to avoid any drugs during 1st trimester. But sometimes the disease is more risky than the drug. At this time there is no option left. So many drugs were tested studied and classified into 5 categories of safety during pregnancy as follows

Category ANo riskAdequate study is done and no risk is found at all.
Category BNo evidence of risk in humansAdequate study done, no risk found in humans, but are teratogenic in some animals
Category CRisk cannot be ruled outStudies are lacking.

Available studies show no risk.

Category DAre risky, but can be used if benefits are highProved to be risky, but can be used if benefits are more.
Category XCompletely contraindicatedThey are an absolute contraindication. Very serious side effects are proved

What is amoxicillin?

        Amoxicillin is an antibiotic, which kills the bacteria in our body. It belongs to category B. Until now no studies have shown any side effects in humans. Also no connection is found between abortions, foetal death or delayed labour and use of amoxicillin. But it is found to be teratogenic in some animals.

Uses of amoxicillin

   Amoxicillin is used in following cases-

  1. Urinary tract infection– Urinary tract infections are caused by bacteria like Coli, pseudomonas etc. These infections are most common during pregnancy as well as most hazardous. Bacteria may hinder the development of foetus. Sometimes they may cause dangerous congenital disease and malformations. It is very necessary to take prescribed antibiotics for these infections. The infection should be cleared as soon as possible. To prevent these infections, maintain proper hygiene, drink plenty of water, and wear clean and soft under garments- cotton is most preferable since it soaks the sweat and lets the skin breath.
  2. Respiratory tract infection– Respiratory tract infections are mainly caused by pnemoniae, pseudomonas, streptococci, h. influenza etc. Even these bacteria are a great threat to baby. They may cause under development of lungs, fluid in lung cavity, difficulty in breathing when delivered, prematurity, preterm baby and low birth weight.
  3. Meningitis– Meningitis is the infection of the layers covering the brain. It is mostly caused by meningococci. It is very dangerous for mother as well as baby. It can be responsible for congenital meningitis; infection can also spread to lower covers of brain. Should be treated as soon as possible.
  4. Gonorrhoea-gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease. Organisms responsible are gonococci, which may cause opthalmia neonatrum i.e. when baby passes through birth canal, the bacteria infects its eye, leading to diminished vision or even blindness. Mother can also pass this disease to her unborn infant through placenta. Should be treated as soon as possible.
  5. Bacterial dysentery– Any kind of bacterial dysentery should be managed as well as treated urgently, as dysentery reduces the fluid balance in the mother’s body. This may lead to complications due to dehydration. The bacteria causing dysentery may be infectious to baby, causing severe abnormalities. So mother should be treated with proper antibiotic and ORS.

           In all this cases you should not refrain from using amoxicillin.  If your doctor has prescribed you amoxicillin the do take it as prescribed. He has surely taken care to give you minimum and the only required amount of dose. Not taking medicine will have more hazardous effects on your baby, since it has very low level of immunity. It is you who has to protect it.

Benefits of amoxicillin

  1. Least dangerous– Several studies have been conducted about amoxicillin toxicity. No study has yet proven any kind of harm to baby. Studies of pregnant women, foetus and babies were conducted, no risks were observed. It is most used antibiotic in pregnancy.
  2. Highly effective– Amoxicillin is still effective against many bacteria. Resistance to amoxicillin is low. But it should be used wisely; dose should not be left in middle. Should be prescribed only when needed or there will be no time for bacteria to acquire resistant.
  3. Bactericidal– There are two types of antibiotics, ‘bacteriostatic’ and ‘bactericidal’. Baceriostatic retards the growth of bacteria, while bactericidal kills the bacteria. Hence it is faster acting and more efficient.
  4. Very less side effects to mother– no side effect of nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain or uneasiness is observed in the mother.

Adverse effects

  1. Diarrhoea– Diarrhoea is a very rare side effect. Normally our gut has some bacteria, which are useful for us. Antibiotics along with foreign bacteria kill the host bacteria also. And this may lead to diarrhoea. But it is completely manageable; we restore our normal condition in due time period.
  2. Rashes You may get rashes due to sensitivity. They are no cause to worry about. But do inform your doctor about the rashes, he will examine them and check their severity.
  3. Hypersensitivity– When any foreign object triggers an immune reaction in a person’s body, the person is said to be hypersensitive to that entity. If you had any such reaction to penicillin or any other antibiotic, make sure to inform your doctor about it. Otherwise even amoxicillin may trigger this reaction.

Points to be taken care of-

  1. Do not take any over the counter drug without asking your doctor.
  2. If you happen to take amoxicillin on your own then inform your doctor about it, he will guide you about the right amount of dose.
  3. Avoid using any new brands of drug, other than prescribed. Sometimes different brand have different action.
  4. During pregnancy, your body metabolism is highly changed, so the drugs which you were taking before may cause side effects now. So do not self prescribe drugs
  5. Keep your doctor informed about the drugs taken.
  6. Maintain proper hygiene and diet.

These were some points about amoxicillin as well as overall drug usage during pregnancy. Do take all the required medicine as prescribed, but avoid any unnecessary use of them. Your baby needs all you protection. So in order to see your baby healthy, you have to be healthy. After all, a healthy mother nurtures a healthy child.

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