A prospective controlled multicentre study of clarithromycin in pregnancy

Am J Perinatol. 1998;15(9):523-5. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-994053.


Clarithromycin is a relatively new macrolide antibiotic with an action spectrum similar to that of erythromycin. Its main indications for use are for upper and lower respiratory and skin and soft tissue infections. Little is known about its safety in pregnancy, although animal reproductive studies found an increased rate of cardiovascular anomalies, cleft palate, and embryonic loss. Human data, limited to case reports and one small uncontrolled study, cannot allow evidence based counseling of pregnant women who were exposed to the drug before finding out they were pregnant. Pregnant women who had been counseled on the use of clarithromycin by five centers, were matched for age, smoking, and alcohol use with a control group of pregnant women who were exposed to nonteratogenic antibiotics. A total of 157 women were followed up. Of these, 122 were exposed to the drug in the first trimester. There were no significant differences found between the two groups in the rates of major and minor malformations; 2.3 versus 1.4% for major (p = 0.86) and 5.4 versus 4.9% for minor (p = 0.96). Spontaneous abortion rates in the exposed group was significantly different, higher (14%) than in the control group (7%) (p = 0.04). This first prospective controlled study of exposure to clarithromycin in pregnancy suggests that this agent does not increase the rate of major malformations above the baseline risk of 1-3%. The higher rate of reported spontaneous abortions, although still within the expected baseline rate, may warrant further study.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Controlled Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / adverse effects
  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Clarithromycin / adverse effects
  • Clarithromycin / therapeutic use*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications, Infectious / drug therapy*
  • Pregnancy Outcome
  • Prospective Studies


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Clarithromycin