Fetal safety of macrolides

Anat Bahat Dinur, Gideon Koren, Ilan Matok, Arnon Wiznitzer, Elia Uziel, Rafael Gorodischer, Amalia Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

42 Scopus citations


Macrolide antibiotics are largely used in pregnancy for different bacterial infections. Their fetal safety has been studied by several groups, yielding opposing results. In particular, there have been studies claiming an association between macrolides and cardiovascular malformations. Exposure in early infancy has been associated with pyloric stenosis and intussusception. This has led to an avoidance in prescribing macrolides to pregnant women in several Scandinavian countries. The Objectives of the present study was to investigate the fetal safety of this class of drug by linking a large administrative database of drug dispensing and pregnancy outcome in Southern Israel. A computerized database of medications dispensed from 1999 to 2009 to all women registered in the Clalit health maintenance organization in southern Israel was linked with two computerized databases containing maternal and infant hospitalization records. Also, medical pregnancy termination data were analyzed. The following confounders were controlled for: maternal age, ethnicity, maternal pregestational diabetes, parity, and the year the mother gave birth or went through medical pregnancy termination. First- and third-trimester exposures to macrolide antibiotics as a group and to individual drugs were analyzed. During the study period there were 105,492 pregnancies among Clalit women that met the inclusion criteria. Of these, 104,380 ended in live births or dead fetuses and 1,112 in abortion due to medical reasons. In the first trimester of pregnancy, 1,033 women were exposed to macrolides. There was no association between macrolides and either major malformations [odds ratio (OR), 1.08; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.84 to 1.38)] or specific malformations, after accounting for maternal age, parity, ethnicity, prepregnancy diabetes, and year of exposure. During the third trimester of pregnancy, 959 women were exposed to macrolides. There was no association between such exposure and perinatal mortality, low birth weight, low Apgar score, or preterm delivery. Similarly, no associations were demonstrated with pyloric stenosis or intussusception. Use of macrolides in the first trimester of pregnancy is not associated with an increased risk of major malformations. Exposure in the third trimester is not likely to increase neonatal risks for pyloric stenosis or intussusception in a clinically meaningful manner.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3307-3311
Number of pages5
JournalAntimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 2013
Externally publishedYes


Dive into the research topics of 'Fetal safety of macrolides'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this