Antibiotics during pregnancy


An antibiotic is a drug that can either kill bacteria or change them in such a way that they do not die, but at least they cannot multiply. It gives the body time to destroy the bacteria itself. In most cases, antibiotics are extracted from micro-organisms and sometimes processed synthetically.

Different classes of antibiotics act at different points in the metabolism of the bacteria. Some inhibit DNA synthesis, which means that bacteria can no longer read and pass on their genetic information. Others inhibit cell wall synthesis or protein synthesis. Without cell wall or proteins, the bacteria cannot survive and die.


Antibiotics can be prescribed by a doctor for bacterial inflammations, infections and diseases. This means, for example, that they do not help with colds caused by viruses and should not be taken. Also, not all antibiotics are effective against all types of bacteria.

There are over a hundred different bacteria, which have very different structures and react differently to antibiotics. Some bacteria are naturally resistant to penicillin because they have an enzyme that breaks down this medicine. You can read more about resistance to antibiotics here. This means that you first have to find out which bacteria cause the disease you want to treat before you can prescribe an antibiotic. Otherwise, the side effects that antibiotics can have would be much more harmful than their benefits.

Which antibiotics are allowed during pregnancy?

If a pregnant woman becomes ill due to bacteria, it must be carefully considered whether antibiotics should be taken or not. Because much of what the mother ingests can also enter the child’s body via the placenta. Frequently, for example in the context of food components, this is of course intentional and also very good.

In the case of medication, however, this can be very harmful to the child, as unborn babies are very susceptible to any kind of poison and a lot of different chemical substances that can be contained in medication. Depending on the substance and the time during pregnancy when an antibiotic is taken, it can have different effects on the baby. These range from mild symptoms, such as yellowing of the teeth, to massive disturbances in the development of certain organs.

Among the antibiotics that have proven to be very well tolerated by both mother and child are penicillins such as amoxicillin, penicillin V, propicillin, flucloxacillin and ampicillin. Cephalosporins and the macrolide erythromycin may also be prescribed. There are no studies that have shown that these antibiotics are harmful.

So they can be taken by pregnant women without hesitation, but of course only if it is really necessary. However, there are also antibiotics that should only be taken when absolutely strictly indicated. This means that they should only be taken if the mother is really very seriously or even life-threateningly ill and the antibiotics mentioned above would not help. Fosfomycin belongs to this group.