Introduction: The extent of antibiotic use in pregnancy remains unknown but may occur in > 40% of pregnant women for various indications, at different gestational ages from different sources.
Areas covered: Antibiotic resistance, alterations to the neonatal immune system causing allergy, asthma and atopic disease in later life and teratogenicity.
Expert opinion: Although teratogenesis is not a major concern, it is important, and ignorance and complacency cast a long shadow. Robust evidence exists to guide clinicians in their choice of a safe agent with respect to teratogenicity. Antibiotic resistance is a major safety concern, and together with decreased research and development of new antibiotic agents, it has required legal initiatives to encourage Big Pharma to search for safe alternatives. New information from culture-independent, molecular-based techniques has resulted in a greater understanding of the adverse effects of antepartum/intrapartum antibiotics on the maternal vaginal microbiome and the neonatal gut microbiome. As this might adversely affect the development of the immature immune system and lead to asthma, allergy and atopic disease in later life, new research merits support in scrutinizing the safety of antibiotic use in pregnancy.
Keywords: allergy; antibacterial; antibiotic; antifungal; antimicrobial; antiviral; asthma; atopy; pregnancy; resistance; safety; teratogenicity; toxicity.