Topic Overview

It is important for pregnant women with active tuberculosis (TB) to receive treatment, because active TB is dangerous to the developing fetus.

  • Treatment usually involves isoniazid, rifampin, and ethambutol for 9 months. If the TB bacteria cannot be killed by any of these first-line medicines, then other medicines and a longer treatment time may be needed.
  • The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends pyrazinamide for treatment of pregnant women who have TB. But the safety of pyrazinamide during pregnancy has not been proven.
  • Streptomycin is not used to treat TB in pregnant women, because it may cause birth defects.
  • Medical experts also recommend that pregnant or breastfeeding women take vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) during treatment for TB.
  • The safety of second-line medicines for a developing fetus is not known. So a pregnant woman infected with drug-resistant TB bacteria or a pregnant woman who has both TB and HIV infections should talk to her doctor about the safest treatment options.

Women being treated for active TB with first-line medicines can continue to breastfeed. The small amounts of medicine that get into the breast milk do not appear to harm a baby. Medical experts recommend that breastfeeding women should also take vitamin B6 during TB treatment.

Related Information

Credits

ByHealthwise Staff
Primary Medical Reviewer E. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine
Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine
Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine
Specialist Medical Reviewer W. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease

Current as ofNovember 29, 2017