Are Antibiotics Safe for Infants?

By Katharine Paljug @kpaljug
January 15, 2018

Many parents have questions about helping their sick babies. Are antibiotics safe for infants? And exactly how do you give antibiotics to a baby?

Antibiotics are used to treat infections caused by bacteria. They work by either killing the bacteria or weakening them, allowing your immune system to fight off infection and heal.

Though antibiotics are used to treat many different illnesses, they come with risks and side effects like any other medication. Many antibiotics can cause diarrhea, vomiting, and rashes. These can be more pronounced in young children whose immune systems are still developing and who may not respond to medication the same way adults do.

As a result, many parents wonder, are antibiotics safe for infants and young children?


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Are antibiotics safe for infants?

For some infants, their first exposure to antibiotics will come when they are born. About 25 percent of women carry group B strep in their genitals, and these bacteria can infect babies during labor and delivery. Newborns who are exposed to group B strep are at risk of serious, life-threatening infections, such as sepsis, pneumonia, and meningitis, so women who carry group B strep are given antibiotics during labor.

In these cases, taking antibiotics is the safest choice for protecting your infant.

After birth, only certain antibiotics are given to infants and other young children, and they are targeted to very specific conditions and diseases. These undergo clinical trials to make sure they are as safe as possible for young, developing bodies. However, though they are safe, antibiotics are not always the best course of treatment for infants.


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February 27, 2020

Reviewed By:  

Janet O’Dell, RN