Antibiotics Birth Defect Risk Seen With Certain Drugs: Study

New research raises further concerns about the side effects of Levaquin, Cipro, Avelox and other commonly used antibiotics, suggesting that use by pregnant women may increase the risk of birth defects. 

In a study published last week in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, researchers looked at a wide array of antibiotics, including a class known as fluroquinolones, as well as macrolides, which include the antibiotic Zithromax, and other antibiotics, including clindamycin, doxycycline and phenoxymethylpenicillin.

Researchers used data from the Quebec pregnancy cohort, involving 139,938 liveborn single births from 1998 to 2008. The study reviewed antibiotic exposure during the first trimester and looked for major congenital malformations in the first year of the baby’s life.

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According to the findings, doxycycline more than doubled the risk of circulatory system malformation, heart defects, and ventricular/atrial septal defects. Clindamycin exposure was associated with a 34% increased risk of major congenital malformations (MCMs), a 67% increased risk of musculoskeletal system malformations, and an 81% increased risk of ventricular/atrial septal defects.

Researchers also cautioned that quinolones in particular, such as Levaquin, Cipro and Avelox, appeared to carry a high risk for pregnant women. They also found birth defect risks linked to macrilodes, moxifloxacin, ofloxacin, erythromycin and phenoxymethylpenicillin; each of which appeared to be associated with a particular type of defect.

However, the study found no link between birth defects and antibiotics like amoxicillin, cephalosporins and nitrofurantoin.

Antibiotic Health Risks

The findings come amid increasing concerns about the health risks of Levaquin, Avelox, Cipro and other fluoroquinolones, including recent warnings by federal regulators to caution that the drugs should not be used for many common infections that are uncomplicated, since safer alternatives are available.

In early 2016, the FDA reviewed various risks associated with fluoroquinolones, including reports of peripheral neuropathy, a form of serious nerve damage that has been found to cause problems long after the medication is no longer used. In addition, the drugs had been linked to concerns about tendon ruptures, retinal detachments and other health problems at that time.

More recently, concerns have emerged about a risk of aortic aneurysm and aortic dissection with the antibiotics, which may be linked to the same side effects that cause the breakdown of connective tissue that result in tendon ruptures and retinal problems.

There are currently several hundred of Levaquin lawsuitsAvelox lawsuits and Cipro lawsuits pending throughout the federal court system, each involving similar allegations that the drug makers failed to adequately disclose the risks associated with the antibiotics.


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