POSITIVE DATA from a novel study has indicated that pregnant women can be cured of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) and deliver healthy babies after taking medication which had previously been considered unsafe in pregnancy. The study conducted across centres in South Africa, Peru, Brazil, Iran, and Uganda, demonstrated that 7 out of 10 pregnant women were cured of TB, and delivered healthy babies.
“This is the first comprehensive review of treatment outcomes for multidrug-resistant TB in pregnant women, who remain one of the most vulnerable groups among the half a million people living with the disease globally,” stated Keyfyalew Alene, Curtin School of Population Health and Telethon Kids Institute, Perth, Australia.
Alene’s study found that 73.2% of females who were pregnant with multidrug-resistant TB gave birth to healthy babies, and that the treatment had been effective in 72.5% of the cohort. “Second-line TB medicines used for the treatment of multidrug-resistant TB are thought to be toxic for the foetus, and previous research has suggested waiting for the treatment to be provided until after the birth,” Alene explained.
“This study shows we need to start the treatment as soon as possible during pregnancy. However, further research on the use of Linezolid in pregnancy is needed because long-term use can increase the risk of gastrointestinal disorders, ototoxicity, and psychiatric disorders.”
The researchers further found that the adverse pregnancy outcomes that were found within the study group (preterm birth, pregnancy loss, low birthweight, and stillbirth) were not caused by the drug, but by the underlying tuberculosis infection and disease itself. This allowed the researchers to conclude an overall positive impact in patients with tuberculosis taking the drug whilst pregnant, as outcomes would have been worse if the drug had not been taken.