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Prophylaxis and Treatment of Anthrax in Pregnant Women: A Systematic Review of Antibiotics
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  • Alternative Title:
    Obstet Gynecol
  • Description:

    To review the safety and pharmacokinetics of antibiotics recommended for anthrax post-exposure prophylaxis and treatment in pregnant women.

    Data Sources

    Articles were identified in the PUBMED database from inception through December 2012 by searching the keywords ([“pregnancy]” and [generic antibiotic name]). Additionally, hand searches of references from REPROTOX, TERIS, review articles and Briggs’ Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation were performed.

    Methods of Study Selection

    Articles included in the review contain primary data related to the safety and pharmacokinetics among pregnant women of five antibiotics recommended for anthrax post-exposure prophylaxis and treatment (ciprofloxacin, levofloxacin, moxifloxacin, doxycycline, amoxicillin), and of nine additional antibiotics recommended as part of the treatment regimen (penicillin, ampicillin, linezolid, clindamycin, meropenem, doripenem, rifampin, chloramphenicol, or vancomycin).

    Tabulation, Integration and Results

    The PUBMED search identified 3850 articles for review. Reference hand searching yielded nine additional articles. In total, 112 articles met the inclusion criteria.


    Overall, safety and pharmacokinetic information is limited for these antibiotics. Although small increases in risks for certain anomalies have been observed with some antibiotics recommended for prophylaxis and treatment of anthrax, the absolute risk of these antibiotics appears low. Given the high morbidity and mortality associated with anthrax, antibiotics should be dosed appropriately to ensure that antibiotic levels can be achieved and sustained. Dosing adjustments may be necessary for the beta lactam antibiotics and the fluoroquinolones to achieve therapeutic levels in pregnant women. Data indicate that the beta lactam antibiotics, the fluoroquinolones, and, to a lesser extent, clindamycin enter the fetal compartment, an important consideration in the treatment of anthrax, as these antibiotics may provide additional fetal benefit in the 2nd and 3rd trimesters of pregnancy. Additional well designed safety and pharmacokinetic studies are needed.

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