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Medications for Infection in Pregnancy
The information provided here is meant to give you a general idea about each of the medications listed below. Only the most general side effects are included, so ask your doctor if you need to take any special precautions. Use each of these medications as recommended by your doctor, or according to the instructions provided. If you have further questions about usage or side effects, contact your doctor.
Antibiotics treat infections caused by bacteria. Infections caused by bacteria include:
- Bacterial vaginosis
- Group B streptococcus (GBS)
- Urinary tract infections (UTIs)
- Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), such as chlamydia , syphilis , and gonorrhea
Antibiotics kill the bacteria that cause the infection. The infection may reoccur after using the antibiotics. If this happens, a repeat course of antibiotics may be necessary. Some people may continue to develop symptoms and complications of the infection even after the bacteria are killed.
Below are examples of antibiotics used to treat infections in pregnancy.
- Amoxicillin —This is a type of penicillin antibiotic. It comes as a capsule, a tablet, a chewable tablet, and a suspension (liquid).
- Clindamycin —If you are taking the liquid form of clindamycin, use a specially marked measuring spoon to measure each dose correctly. The average household teaspoon may not hold the right amount of liquid.
- Ceftriaxone, Cephalexin, Cefazolin —These are cephalosporin antibiotics. Some are given in a pill form and others are injected.
- Azithromycin, Erythromycin —These drugs are called macrolides. They are used for a variety of bacterial infections.
Possible side effects of all antibiotics include:
- Abdominal pain or discomfort
- Nausea and vomiting
- Allergic reaction, including skin rash, swelling, and difficulty breathing
If you have been exposed or have specific infections, you may get an injection or infusion of immune globulin (IG) to help boost your immunity. IG can be given safely as a shot under the skin, into a muscle, or by IV.
IG can be used for:
- Chickenpox —Varicella-zoster immune globulin (VZIG) can prevent chickenpox or make the infection less severe if it is given within 72 hours of exposure.
- Measles —If you were exposed to measles and have no signs of immunity, you may be given IG by IV within 6 days of exposure.
- Hepatitis B —Often given late in pregnancy. It has been shown to prevent transmission from you to your developing baby.
Infection with herpes virus is treated with acyclovir. This medication can also be used to prevent an outbreak during pregnancy. Women who are infected with HIV should talk to their doctor about which antiviral medications are appropriate.
Certain antiviral medications can safely be given to women late in pregnancy to decrease the risk of transmitting hepatitis B from the mother to the developing baby. These include lamivudine, telbivudine, and tenovofir.
Whenever you are taking a prescription medication, take the following precautions:
- Take your medication as directed. Do not change the amount or the schedule.
- Do not stop taking them without talking to your doctor.
- Do not share them.
- Know what the results and side effects may be. Report them to your doctor.
- Some drugs can be dangerous when mixed. Talk to a doctor or pharmacist if you are taking more than one drug. This includes over-the-counter medication and herb or dietary supplements.
- Plan ahead for refills so you don’t run out.
Talk with your doctor before using over-the-counter medications to treat an infection. There are some over-the-counter medications that are not safe to use during pregnancy.
Acetaminophen is generally safe to use during pregnancy. It may ease symptoms of an infection. Other pain relievers, such as ibuprofen , naproxen , aspirin should be avoided during pregnancy unless under medical supervision. These medications especially need to be avoided late in pregnancy.
Bacterial vaginosis during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/bacterialvaginosis-2.html. Updated May 2005. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Chorioamnionitis. Cleveland Clinic website. Available at: http://www.clevelandclinic.org/health/health-info/docs/3800/3857.asp?index=12309. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Cytomegalovirus (CMV) and congenital CMV infection. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/cmv/index.html. Updated July 28, 2010. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Group B Strep (GBS). Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/groupbstrep/index.html. Updated May 23, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Listeria and pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancyhealth/listeria.html. Updated June 2011. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Measles. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated May 19, 2014. Accessed May 28, 2014.
Nielsen GL, Sorensen HT, et al. Risk of adverse birth outcome and miscarriage in pregnant users of non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs: population based observation study and case-control study. BMJ. 2001;322:266-270.
Pregnancy and HBV: FAQ. Hepatitis B Foundation website. Available at: http://www.hepb.org/patients/pregnant%5Fwomen.htm. Updated October 18, 2013. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Pregnancy and fifth disease. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/parvovirusB19/pregnancy.html. Updated February 14, 2012. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Shi Z, Li X, et al. Hepatitis B immunoglobulin injection in pregnancy to interrupt hepatitis B virus mother-to-child transmission-a meta-analysis. Int J Infect Dis. 2010;14(7):e622-e634.
STDs and pregnancy. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/std/pregnancy/default.htm. Updated July 10, 2013, Accessed July 29, 2013.
Toxoplasmosis. American Academy of Family Physicians Family Doctor website. Available at: http://familydoctor.org/familydoctor/en/diseases-conditions/toxoplasmosis.html. Updated January 2011. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Urinary tract infection during pregnancy. American Pregnancy Association website. Available at: http://www.americanpregnancy.org/pregnancycomplications/utiduringpreg.html. Updated April 2006. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Varicella. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated April 13, 2013. Accessed July 29, 2013.
Wong F, Pai R, et al. Hepatitis B in pregnancy: a concise review of neonatal vertical transmission and antiviral prophylaxis. Ann Hepatol. 2014;13(2):187-195.
- Reviewer: Andrea Chisholm, MD
- Review Date: 05/2015
- Update Date: 05/20/2015