Pregnant women often experience a variety of unpleasant symptoms during their first trimester. One of the most common conditions that women experience early in pregnancy is urinary tract infections. This condition affects about 8 percent of pregnant women.
A urinary tract infection can cause frequent urination. It can also cause one to experience a burning sensation when they urinate. Urinary tract infections can be dangerous for mother and baby. A UTI can increase the risk of premature birth and low-birth weight. It can also increase the risk of death in babies. If the UTI is not treated, then it can spread to the kidneys. This puts mother and baby at risk.
Pregnant women are often prescribed antibiotics to treat their condition. However, there are some antibiotics that can be dangerous for pregnant women to take. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists recommends that pregnant women avoid taking nitrofurantoin and sulfonamides. They stated that pregnant women should only take these medications if they are no other alternatives available.
Both of these medications have been shown to increase the risk of birth defects in babies. Some of those defects include heart defects, cleft lips, cleft palates and brain malformations. Many doctors are not following the recommendation. A report done by the CDC in 2014 showed that 70 percent of pregnant women who were diagnosed with a UTI received antibiotics.
Nitrofurantoin and sulfonamides are some of the most commonly-prescribed antibiotics. Cephalexin is one of the antibiotics that many doctors think is safe. However, there have been no studies done to rule out the risks. It is estimated that 10 percent of pregnant women are prescribed Cephalexin.
Many healthcare providers who prescribe these drugs do not know that the woman is pregnant. They may also prescribe the medication over the phone without examining the patient. They may not be aware of the antibiotic recommendations. Additionally, many patients do not know that they are pregnant early in their pregnancy.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton is an obstetrician-gynecologist who works for ABC News. She stated that the risks and benefits have to be weighed when prescribing medications. Doctors also have to be mindful of the fact that they are treating two patients.