A popular Yeast infection pill may heighten miscarriage risk, a recent study featured on Tuesday, January 5 in the JAMA journal has revealed.
Research was conducted by a team of Danish scientists, led by Ditte Molgaard-Nielsen, epidemiologist at the Statens Serum Institute from Copenhagen.
A total of 1.4 million pregnancies, which had occurred between 1997 and 2013, were carefully analyzed, in order to detect potential differences when it came to successful deliveries.
More precisely, experts wanted to see if there would be more stillbirths and miscarriages among expectant mothers who had taken fluconazole (Diflucan), an oral drug which is frequently prescribed against yeast infections triggered by a fungus known as Candida albicans.
Vaginal candidosis normally manifests itself through irregular vaginal discharge, pain during sexual intercourse, redness, itching and swelling.
This unpleasant condition is actually relatively frequent among pregnant women, as a result of dramatic hormonal perturbations (especially in progesterone and estrogen levels), affecting 1 in 10 of all expectant mothers across the nation.
Usually, vaginal suppositories with antifungal properties are prescribed against this type of candidosis, such treatment being considered the traditional way of handling the infection.
However, in many cases women turn to Diflucan tablets instead, either following a recommendation from their physicians, or by the their own choice.
This antifungal medication, taken orally, should normally be taken just in case topical creams are ineffective, if candidosis has a tendency to re-emerge, or if symptoms are too distressing.
Even more, doctors such as Jennifer Wu, gynecologist and obstetrician at Lenox Hill Hospital, now emphasize that oral fluconazole should under no circumstances be administered to patients wishing to conceive a child, or who are already expecting one.
That is because this new research has revealed that such medication, previously linked to a higher prevalence of birth defects, is also associated with an increased likelihood of spontaneous abortion.
More precisely, in a group of 3,300 women who had suffered from vaginal candidosis and had required oral Diflucan to combat it between the 7th and 22nd week of pregnancy, there had been a total of 147 pregnancy losses.
In contrast, among 13,000 expectant mothers who hadn’t been administered this medication, 563 suffered a miscarriage, losing their baby in the first 24 weeks of pregnancy.
Overall, it appears that opting for such medical treatment in the early stages of fetal development escalated the possibility of spontaneous abortion by around 50%, even among those who had taken small doses (150 milligrams).
When analyzing the prevalence of stillbirths (fetal deaths occurring in the womb, after 24 weeks of pregnancy had passed), researchers discovered that there was no statistically significant difference between patients who had resorted to fluconazole and those who had not.
There were 21 intra-uterine stillbirths among 5,300 expectant mothers who had taken this oral pill, and 77 such pregnancy losses among 21,500 subjects who hadn’t needed this medication.
While the study doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship between Diflucan and miscarriages, researchers believe that a follow-up investigation could explore this theory more thoroughly, in order to explain if there is another factor at play, or if a determination actually exists.
In the meantime, they urge patients not to take fluconazole unless a qualified physician has prescribed it to them, and to steer clear of it during pregnancy.
This opinion is shared by Dr. Jill Rabin, professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Hofstra Northwell School of Medicine, who has pointed out that Diflucan usually also causes symptoms similar to those of influenza, which is why it shouldn’t be administered carelessly or irresponsibly.
Moreover, according to her, women experiencing vaginal discharges or other signs of candidosis should first consult a physician instead of self-medicating, because there are also other conditions which have similar manifestations to those of this fungal infection.
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