Wednesday, May 15, 2013


What is erythromycin?  It is an antibiotic cream that is used soon after birth.  It is placed in the new baby's eyes in order to prevent serious infection.  

Up until this moment all three of my babies have gotten it.  With Kara I almost didn't give it to her but then changed my mind after delivery.  I was tired and couldn't remember what I had researched about it.  This time I want to be more prepared and make my decision prior to birth. 

So what exactly is it?

The Open Door Midwifery has this to say about it. 

Basically there is a risk that if the Mom has chlamydia or gonorrhea (both sexually transmitted diseases) the baby will contact the disease through the birth canal.  This contact will lead to an infection and quite possibly blindness if untreated.  From some research I was doing it appears that in some of the USA it is illegal for a parent to refuse this treatment.  As far as I can tell, Canada does not have that law.  (thank goodness!!!  The medical system taking away rights from parents is to me outrageous, dangerous and another post for another time :)

Here is another paper on the administration of erythromycin.   

If you want some dry reading here is the FDA's version of the drug.  It uses a lot of big words that I don't understand -but what I do get from the article just by briefly glancing over it is that nursing mothers should be given the drug with caution, and yet every newborn baby is given the drug regardless of whether they need it.  There have been no tests done (to my knowledge) that show it has serious harmful effects to a baby.  To me that doesn't mean anything.  I trust the FDA about as much as I trust Monsanto or DOW. 

I'm going to be giving this some thought and discussing it with TR, but here are my initial thoughts from some basic googling:

  • I don't like giving antibiotics unless absolutely necessary.  And what the doctor thinks is needed, is not what I think is needed.   Antibiotics can cause harm.  A baby is born with a clean slate in their gut and the last thing I want to do is give them antibiotics causing their gut to be off-balance.  When I google erythromycin and see wikipedia's answer they give a list of side effects that these other sites don't have.  It makes me wonder why?  Is there something different about the treatment they give to babies compared to what they give adults?  Or are they sugar coating the possible side effects that could occur in a baby?
  • If a baby receives no cream in their eyes at birth and then contacts the disease, it looks to me that they can then apply the treatment and the baby will be fine. 
So as it looks now I am seriously leaning towards not treating this baby's eyes. 

What do you think?  Do you think this cream is necessary for every baby?


  1. Yikes! So what if both husband and wife were virgins at marriage, there is no way they have sexually transmitted disease! What would be the point of the cream?!
    I always had to be on antibiotics or strep B, my poor babies got a double whammy :(
    Also, it's not like treating the eyes at birth prevents future infection (if they decide to have several sexual partners).

    1. Exactly! At least in Canada we have the legal right to refuse the treatment.


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