Bactrim During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on April 22, 2012

Bactrim is a medication that contains trimethoprim, a substance that is generally avoided during pregnancy. Bactrim has been issued a “category C” rating from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, meaning that it may be given to a pregnant woman only if the benefits outweigh the risks.

Read on to learn about the benefits and risks of using Bactrim during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Bactrim Uses

Bactrim is an antibiotic that is most often used to treat urinary tract infections and kidney infections. Urinary tract infections are common during pregnancy because of changes that occur in the urinary tract. During pregnancy, the uterus sits on top of the bladder, and the weight of the uterus can block the drainage of urine from the bladder causing an infection. Symptoms of a urinary tract infection include a burning sensation when urinating, frequent urination, blood in urine, cramps in the lower abdomen, and foul smelling urine.

Bactrim During Pregnancy

It is advised that pregnant women do not take Bactrim because of the effects that have been observed in animals. In studies, Bactrim increased the risk of cleft palate and increased the risk of fetal death in rats.

There is not a sufficient amount of research available for Bactrim use in humans during pregnancy; however, some studies suggest that the risk for birth defects is probably low. Bactrim may increase the risk for jaundice, especially if taken late in pregnancy. Severe jaundice can pose the risk of brain damage in newborns.

Folic Acid

The fact that Bactrim may block the effects of folic acid is the main cause for concern in taking it while pregnant. Folic acid is very important during pregnancy because it reduces the risk of the baby developing neural tube defects, which are serious defects to the spine and brain such as spina bifida or anencephaly. Therefore, if a healthcare provider deems it necessary for a pregnant woman to take Bactrim, she should also take a daily folic acid supplement of at least 400 micrograms. Most prenatal vitamins meet and exceed this requirement.

Bactrim While Breastfeeding

There is not enough research to determine if Bactrim is safe for breastfeeding women. It is known that Bactrim passes through breast milk in humans, and will therefore have an effect on the baby.

Some sources consider Bactrim to be acceptable when breastfeeding a healthy, full-term infant. Bactrim may increase the risk for jaundice, so mothers of babies who are premature, jaundiced, or ill should avoid Bactrim. Any infants who are breastfed by a mother on Bactrim should be watched for stomach upset, thrush, and diaper rash.

Mothers and mothers-to-be should be cautious with any medications that are taken during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. For the most part, it is wise to avoid “category C” drugs like Bactrim if at all possible. However, in some cases your healthcare provider may decide that the benefits of taking Bactrim out-weight the risks, because in pregnancy and breastfeeding, a baby's health is directly related to the health of its mother.