Merck Manual

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Effect of Drug Treatment on the Fetus or Newborn Pet

By

Robert O. Gilbert

, BVSc, MMedVet, DACT, MRCVS, Reproductive Medicine, Department of Clinical Sciences, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University

Last full review/revision Jul 2011

An important aspect of medical treatment is the effect the treatment will have on the fetus or newborn when given to a pregnant or lactating animal. Many drugs are capable of crossing the placenta and affecting the fetus. Certain antibiotic drugs are toxic to a fetus, while others may affect developing cartilage, bones, and teeth. Some antifungal drugs and all cancer chemotherapeutic drugs are potentially harmful to a developing fetus. Glucocorticoids may cause cleft palate or other defects in puppies.

When medications are given to lactating animals, the excretion of the drug or its byproducts in milk and the possible effects on the suckling newborn must be taken into consideration.

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