Prophylaxis and Treatment of Anthrax in Pregnant Women

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To review the safety and pharmacokinetics of antimicrobials recommended for anthrax postexposure prophylaxis and treatment in pregnant women.


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


Articles included in the review contain primary data related to the safety and pharmacokinetics among pregnant women of 14 antimicrobials recommended for anthrax postexposure prophylaxis and treatment (amoxicillin, ampicillin, chloramphenicol, clindamycin, ciprofloxacin, doripenem, doxycycline, levofloxacin, linezolid, meropenem, moxifloxacin, penicillin, rifampin, and vancomycin).


The PubMed search identified 3,850 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 antimicrobials. Although small increases in risks for certain anomalies have been observed with some antimicrobials recommended for prophylaxis and treatment of anthrax, the absolute risk of these antimicrobials appears low. Given the high morbidity and mortality associated with anthrax, antimicrobials should be dosed appropriately to ensure that antibiotic levels can be achieved and sustained. Dosing adjustments may be necessary for the β-lactam antimicrobials and the fluoroquinolones to achieve therapeutic levels in pregnant women. Data indicate that the β-lactam antimicrobials, the fluoroquinolones, and, to a lesser extent, clindamycin enter the fetal compartment, an important consideration in the treatment of anthrax, because these antimicrobials may provide additional fetal benefit in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.

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