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Antibiotics and pregnancy: What's safe?

Medically reviewed by Drugs.com. Last updated on Jul 2, 2021.

Antibiotics are commonly prescribed during pregnancy. However, the specific type of medication must be chosen carefully. Some antibiotics are OK to take during pregnancy, while others are not. Safety depends on various factors, including the type of antibiotic, when in your pregnancy you take the antibiotic and for how long, how much you take, and the possible effects it might have on your pregnancy.

Here's a sampling of antibiotics generally considered safe during pregnancy:

  • Penicillins, including amoxicillin (Amoxil, Larotid) and ampicillin
  • Cephalosporins, including cefaclor and cephalexin (Keflex)
  • Clindamycin (Cleocin, Clinda-Derm, Clindagel)

Certain other antibiotics are believed to pose risks during pregnancy. For example, tetracyclines can affect bone development and discolor a developing baby's teeth. Tetracyclines aren't recommended for use after the fifth week of pregnancy. Sulfonamides might pose a small risk of heart conditions, cleft lip or palate, and jaundice. Sulfonamides are generally avoided during the first trimester of pregnancy and near the time of delivery.

If an antibiotic is the best way to treat your condition, your doctor will prescribe the safest antibiotic and dosage. If you have questions or concerns about the use of an antibiotic during pregnancy, talk to your doctor.

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