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Is It Safe to Take Nitrofurantoin in Pregnancy?

K.C. Bruning
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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The safety of taking nitrofurantoin in pregnancy generally depends upon the stage of gestation. Historically, there has not been evidence indicating that the drug will harm the fetus during most phases of pregnancy. It is believed by many medical professionals to be risky to take the drug in the last month of pregnancy, however. Studies have continued to be conducted to find conclusive evidence about the safety of nitrofurantoin in pregnancy. Women who become pregnant while taking the drug are typically advised to consult with a healthcare professional promptly.

Women might take nitrofurantoin in pregnancy to treat urinary tract infections. Many doctors will suggest ceasing use of the drug by about 38-42 weeks into the pregnancy, which is approximately when the baby is at full term. It also should not be taken if the woman is going into labor.

The safety of taking nitrofurantoin in pregnancy has not been clear, so doctors often prescribe the drug with caution. There usually must be a demonstrated need for the drug. Some women might be at too high of a risk for taking the drug. For this reason, it is important for a woman to disclose her full medical history to the prescribing doctor before taking the drug. Some doctors will want to observe the patient and fetus more closely while the drug is being administered.

This drug is excreted into breast milk, so new mothers typically are advised not to take nitrofurantoin if they are nursing. When the child is at least 1 month old, it might be safe for the mother to resume taking the drug and keep breastfeeding. A doctor should be consulted about whether the risk to the child has subsided by this time.

Nitrofurantoin is an antibiotic medication that comes in liquid and capsule forms. It typically is prescribed to be taken several times a day. The drug usually is prescribed to treat urinary tract infections.

Patients who have previous conditions such as lung or kidney disease, nerve damage or anemia might need adjusted dosage or extra observation while taking nitrofurantoin. Some of the most common side effects include low appetite, nausea and vomiting. There also have been reports of patients having dark, discolored urine. These side effects usually are not serious and need to be discussed with a doctor only if they worsen or do not go away.

There also are several serious potential side effects of taking nitrofurantoin, include fever, chills and breathing problems. Patients also have reported chest pain, uncharacteristic tiredness or weakness of the muscles and a swollen tongue or lips. These symptoms should receive immediate medical attention.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
K.C. Bruning
By K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and platforms, including The Health Board. With a degree in English, she crafts compelling blog posts, web copy, resumes, and articles that resonate with readers. Bruning also showcases her passion for writing and learning through her own review site and podcast, offering unique perspectives on various topics.
Discussion Comments
By ZipLine — On Dec 06, 2013

@fify-- I also took nitrofurantoin when I was pregnant and everything was fine. I think it's only dangerous when it's close to labor. And the dose and the treatment time is important too.

By donasmrs — On Dec 05, 2013

@fify-- I used nitrofurantoin during my pregnancy without any negative side effects but I understand your worries. Please see your doctor right away and ask him or her if there is an alternative antibiotic. There are several different types of antibiotics that are safe to use during pregnancy. Of course, they are effective against different types of bacteria. But I'm assuming that there must be at least one other safe alternative to nitrofurantoin for urinary tract infections.

Just don't waste time because a UTI can be very dangerous for the fetus if it spreads. This is why pregnant women are given antibiotics, because the risks from the UTI is greater than the risks from the antibiotics.

By fify — On Dec 05, 2013

My doctor prescribed me this medication for a urinary tract infection and I'm twenty weeks pregnant. I haven't started taking it yet and after reading some of the information about it online, I don't think I will.

I saw about five people comment on a health site that they had a miscarriage soon after starting this medication. I don't know if those were all coincidences, but I don't want to take the risk.

Is there another antibiotic I can take that's safer?

K.C. Bruning
K.C. Bruning
Kendahl Cruver Bruning, a versatile writer and editor, creates engaging content for a wide range of publications and...
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