FDA: Yeast Infection Drug Linked to Birth Defects

FDA: Yeast Infection Drug Linked to Birth DefectsThe U.S. Food and Drug Administration recently issued a statement warning that pregnant women who take high doses of the drug fluconazole for long periods may have an increased risk of having babies who have birth defects, HealthDay reports.

According to the news source, fluconazole is a drug used to treat yeast infections that appear in the vagina, mouth, throat, esophagus and other organs, and can also be used to treat certain forms of meningitis. The drug is often used in chemotherapy patients or patients undergoing radiation therapy before a bone marrow transplant.

When long-term, high doses are taken during the first trimester of pregnancy, it can result in the an increased risk of rare and distinct birth defects.

One expert with the FDA concluded the drug would most affect those who have taken high doses.

“Diflucan is generally reserved for resistant genital infections and when used for this indication the lower dose regimen is used,” Dr. Edwin R. Guzman, director of maternal-fetal medicine at NYU Langone Medical Center, said in a statement. “It is generally used for non-genital tract/systemic infections and in patients who are immunocompromised. Therefore, long-term high dose use in pregnancy would not be a common occurrence.”

Guzman said that at times, women who are prescribed fluconazole may need to carefully weigh the benefits of the drug against the possible fetal risks.

The FDA has assigned the drug to pregnancy category D for long-term use of a high dose, meaning that evidence exists that use of the drug poses a risk to human fetuses, but could still possibly be used.

According to the CDC, a yeast infection, or Candidiasis, can occur in various organs in the body when there is a buildup of the Candida fungus.