Between 19%-44% pregnant women are prescribed antibiotics during pregnancy. A single, large randomised-controlled-trial (ORACLE Childhood Study II) found an increased risk of childhood cerebral palsy and possibly epilepsy following prophylactic antibiotic use in pregnant women with spontaneous preterm labour. We ascertained whether this outcome could be reproduced across the population of babies delivered at term and prospectively followed in primary-care using data from The Health Improvement Network.

We found no overall association between antibiotic prescribing in pregnancy and cerebral palsy and/or epilepsy in childhood. However, our finding of an increased risk of cerebral palsy or epilepsy associated with macrolide prescribing in pregnancy adds to evidence that macrolide use is associated with serious harm.

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