Tuberculosis, also known as TB, is a serious disease. TB is caused by bacteria that spread through the air when a person with contagious TB coughs, sneezes, sings, or talks. TB usually affects the lungs, but can also affect other parts of the body like glands, bones, joints, kidneys, the brain, and reproductive organs.
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
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
Medical experts also recommend that pregnant or
breastfeeding women take vitamin B6 (pyridoxine) during treatment for
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.
ByHealthwise Staff Primary Medical ReviewerE. Gregory Thompson, MD - Internal Medicine Brian D. O'Brien, MD - Internal Medicine Adam Husney, MD - Family Medicine Specialist Medical ReviewerW. David Colby IV, MSc, MD, FRCPC - Infectious Disease