Erythromycin

(Date: June 2020. Version: 3)

This factsheet has been written for members of the public by the UK Teratology Information Service (UKTIS). UKTIS is a not-for-profit organisation funded by Public Health England on behalf of UK Health Departments. UKTIS has been providing scientific information to health care providers since 1983 on the effects that medicines, recreational drugs and chemicals may have on the developing baby during pregnancy.

What is it?

Erythromycin is an antibiotic and is used to treat a wide range of infections.

What are the benefits of using erythromycin in pregnancy?

Erythromycin is usually effective in treating infection. It is commonly prescribed during pregnancy, with no known harmful effects for the developing baby.  

What are the risks of using erythromycin in pregnancy?

The majority of studies find no link between erythromycin use and birth defects (including heart defects) in the baby. There is also no evidence that use of erythromycin in pregnancy causes miscarriage, stillbirth, preterm birth, or low infant birth weight.

Are there any alternatives to using erythromycin in pregnancy?

Possibly, as other antibiotics can also be used in pregnancy. However, the specific antibiotic prescribed will be based on the type of infection that you have and whether you have experienced side effects from antibiotics in the past. If you have any questions about a medicine that you are offered in pregnancy, you should discuss them with your doctor or midwife.

What if I prefer not to take medicines to treat infection in pregnancy?

Treating infections during pregnancy may be crucial to your and your baby’s health. Infection, if left untreated, can make you and your baby seriously unwell. It is therefore important to take any antibiotics prescribed during pregnancy. You can also feel reassured that these medicines are commonly used. Your doctor will only prescribe medicines when absolutely necessary and will be happy to talk to you about any concerns that you might have.

Will my baby need extra monitoring during pregnancy?

As part of their routine antenatal care most women will be offered a scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy to check the baby’s wellbeing.

Taking erythromycin during pregnancy is not expected to cause any problems that would require extra monitoring of your baby.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken erythromycin?

We would not expect any increased risk to your baby if the father took erythromycin before or around the time you became pregnant.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet, please discuss them with your healthcare provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from www.uktis.org

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General information 

Up to 1 out of every 5 pregnancies ends in a miscarriage, and 1 in 40 babies are born with a birth defect. These are referred to as the background population risks.  They describe the chance of these events happening for any pregnancy before taking factors such as the mother’s health during pregnancy, her lifestyle, medicines she takes and the genetic make up of her and the baby’s father into account.

Medicines use in pregnancy

Most medicines used by the mother will cross the placenta and reach the baby. Sometimes this may have beneficial effects for the baby.  There are, however, some medicines that can harm a baby’s normal development.  How a medicine affects a baby may depend on the stage of pregnancy when the medicine is taken. If you are on regular medication you should discuss these effects with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please ensure the doctor or health care professional treating you is aware of your pregnancy.

When deciding whether or not to use a medicine in pregnancy you need to weigh up how the medicine might improve your and/or your unborn baby’s health against any possible problems that the drug may cause. Our bumps leaflets are written to provide you with a summary of what is known about use of a specific medicine in pregnancy so that you can decide together with your health care provider what is best for you and your baby.   

Every pregnancy is unique. The decision to start, stop, continue or change a prescribed medicine before or during pregnancy should be made in consultation with your health care provider. It is very helpful if you can record all your medication taken in pregnancy in your hand held maternity records.

   

www.medicinesinpregnancy.org

Disclaimer: This information is not intended to replace the individual care and advice of your health care provider. New information is continually becoming available. Whilst every effort will be made to ensure that this information is accurate and up to date at the time of publication, we cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes following decisions made on the basis of this information. We strongly advise that printouts should NOT be kept for any length of time, or for “future reference” as they can rapidly become out of date.

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