Date: August 2022, Version 2.0

Quick read

It is very important to correctly treat an infection in pregnancy. An aminoglycoside may be recommended for some types of infection, where the benefits of treatment are thought to outweigh the possible risks.

What are they?

The aminoglycosides are antibiotics. Aminoglycosides used in the UK include amikacin (Amikin®), gentamicin (Cidomycin®), neomycin (Neo-Fradin®), streptomycin, and tobramycin (Tobi®, Munuza®, Tymbrineb®, Bramitob®, Vantobra®).

Aminoglycosides are used as ear drops to treat ear infections and eye drops for eye infections. They may be given in hospital as an injection or through a drip for serious infections, or to clear bacteria from the bowel before bowel surgery.


What are the benefits of using an aminoglycoside in pregnancy?

Aminoglycosides work well for many ear and eye infections, and when used in the form of eye or ear drops, do not enter the bloodstream in amounts that could harm the baby.

An aminoglycoside given in hospital can be an effective treatment for a serious (possibly life-threatening) infection. In such cases, it will have been decided that an aminoglycoside is the best antibiotic choice and the benefits of treatment will outweigh any possible risks.


What are the risks of using an aminoglycoside in pregnancy?

Taking an aminoglycoside in early pregnancy is not known to cause birth defects in the baby or increase the chance of preterm delivery or low infant birthweight. Other pregnancy outcomes have not been studied.

Aminoglycosides given by injection or drip can cause hearing loss in some people who carry a rare gene. While most babies exposed in the womb are unaffected, there are some reports of hearing problems in babies who were exposed during pregnancy. In these cases, the mothers’ hearing was also affected. Ideally, pregnant women who require aminoglycoside treatment could be offered a blood test for the gene linked to hearing loss. However, in practice, aminoglycosides often need to be given quickly for a serious infection, and as this side effect is very rare, the benefits of immediate treatment will likely outweigh the risk.


Are there any alternatives to taking an aminoglycoside in pregnancy?

Possibly, although alternative antibiotics may not work as well for some types of infection. A doctor will be able to discuss why a particular antibiotic is the best treatment.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to take medicines in pregnancy?

It is important that an infection in pregnancy is well-treated as it can lead to very unpleasant symptoms, as well as serious complications for both mother and baby.

A doctor will only prescribe medicines when necessary and will be happy to talk about any concerns.

Will I or my baby need extra monitoring?

As part of routine antenatal care, most women will be offered a very detailed scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy to check the baby’s development.No extra monitoring for major birth defects is required following use of an aminoglycoside.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken an aminoglycoside?

There is no evidence that an aminoglycoside used by the father can harm the baby through effects on the sperm.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions about the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.