Common Bacterial and Viral Infections: Review of Management in the Pregnant Patient

Ann Pharmacother. 2019 Jun;53(6):639-651. doi: 10.1177/1060028018817935. Epub 2018 Dec 17.


Objective: To review the treatment of common bacterial and viral infections occurring in the pregnant patient.

Data sources: A literature search of MEDLINE was performed (inception to October 2018). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website was utilized for additional information.

Study selection and data extraction: Relevant English-language studies and those conducted in humans were considered.

Data synthesis: β-Lactams alone or in combination are the preferred treatment for many common infections in pregnancy, such as urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), gonococcal infections, syphilis, chancroid, upper- and lower-respiratory-tract infections, certain gastrointestinal infections, Group B Streptococcus, listeriosis, and intrauterine inflammation or infection. Macrolides, particularly azithromycin, are also utilized for the treatment of PID, chlamydia, gonococcal infections, chancroid, community-acquired pneumonia, and certain gastrointestinal infections. Other antibiotics or antivirals such as vancomycin, aminoglycosides, metronidazole, nitrofurantoin, fosfomycin, acyclovir, valacyclovir, and oseltamivir are included in the preferred therapy for some common bacterial and viral infections in pregnant patients as well. Relevance to Patient Care and Clinical Practice: This review synthesizes available evidence of treatments of common infections in pregnancy and provides a concise summary to guide clinicians on empirical treatment during pregnancy.

Conclusions: There are limited data on clinical outcomes in pregnant patients with common bacterial and viral infections. Empirical management decisions require balance of benefit and risk to both mother and infant. Although few clinical practice guidelines have quality evidence for strong recommendations in this population, clinicians should weigh antimicrobial dosing, pharmacokinetics, safety, and established effectiveness to optimize antimicrobial therapy in pregnancy.

Keywords: bacterial infections; pregnancy; viral infections.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Infective Agents / therapeutic use
  • Bacterial Infections / drug therapy*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Pregnancy
  • Virus Diseases / drug therapy*


  • Anti-Infective Agents