Antibiotics in pregnancy 'increases cerebral palsy risk'

Prescribing antibiotics to women at-risk of giving birth prematurely could increase the risk of functional impairment and cerebral palsy in their children, according to UK research.

For the study, the researchers looked at whether prescribing the antibiotics erythromycin and co-amoxiclav could prevent underlying infection and thereby delay premature birth in a group of 4,221 pregnant women.

Children born to the women were followed up for 7 years for any signs of impairment.

Overall, the risk of functional impairment increased by 18 per cent for children of mothers who received erythromycin compared with no erythromycin.

For mothers taking erythromycin, 3.3 per cent of the children developed cerebral palsy compared with 1.7 per cent for mothers who were not taking the antibiotic.

A similar increase in the risk of cerebral palsy was also seen in mothers taking co-amoxiclav.

The Lancet Online 2008

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