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Birth Control/Chloramphenicol & risks to pregnancy


I'm 29 years old and pretty healthy. My husband and I are trying to conceive our first child.
My concern is that our vet recently prescribed chloramphenicol to our dog to treat a recurrent staph infection. The vet told us that because of the risks of serious human side effects, we needed to wear gloves when giving the dog his pills.
My question is whether we should stop trying to conceive because of possible risks to the fetus if I am exposed to the chloramphenicol, or whether the chloramphenicol can cause infertility.
Thanks in advance for any help you can offer us.

Dear Christina,

In my humble opinion, your vet is way over the top.  I happen to be old enough to remember when we used chloramphenicol on a regular basis, and it was a wonderful antibiotic.  However, occasionally it damaged the bone marrow, causing something called aplastic anemia, which is fatal.  However, handling chloramphenicol pills has never, to my knowledge, caused any problem for anyone.  Chloramphenicol is a class C medication, meaning that it can cause problems in pregnant experimental animals, but has not been shown to cause problems in pregnant women (except near term).  That's true for a large majority of medications commonly used today.

I don't think giving your dog chloramphenicol (whether you use gloves or not) will have any effect on fertility, pregnancy, or anything else, except your dog.  

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Norman Solberg


I am an OB-GYN physician. I can answer almost any question related to women's health.


35 years in an active OB-GYN practice.

Fellow, American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology

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