Tuberculosis and Pregnancy
Last Updated: June 2005
Untreated tuberculosis (TB) represents a greater hazard to a pregnant
woman and her fetus than does its treatment. Treatment of pregnant
women should be initiated whenever the probability of TB is moderate
to high. Infants born to women with untreated TB may be of lower
birth weight than those born to women without TB and, rarely, the
infant may be born with TB. Although the drugs used in the initial
treatment regimen cross the placenta, they do not appear to have
harmful effects on the fetus.
Tuberculin skin testing is considered valid and safe throughout
pregnancy. However, testing with the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold test
has not been evaluated for diagnosing M. tuberculosis infection
in pregnant women.
Latent TB Infection (LTBI) – Isoniazid
(INH) administered either daily or twice weekly for 9 months is
the preferred regimen for the treatment of LTBI in pregnant women.
Women taking INH should also take pyridoxine (vitamin B6) supplementation.
TB Disease - Pregnant women should start treatment
as soon as TB is suspected. The preferred initial treatment regimen
is INH, rifampin (RIF), and ethambutol daily for 2 months, followed
by INH & RIF daily, or twice weekly for 7 months, for 9 months
of total treatment. Streptomycin should not be used because it has
been shown to have harmful effects on the fetus. In most cases,
pyrazinamide (PZA) is not recommended to be used because its effect
on the fetus is unknown.
HIV Infection - HIV-infected pregnant women who
are suspected of having TB disease should be treated without delay.
TB treatment regimens for HIV-infected pregnant women should include
a rifamycin. Although the routine use of PZA during pregnancy is
not recommended in the United States, the benefits of a TB treatment
regimen that includes PZA for HIV-infected pregnant women outweigh
the undetermined potential risks to the fetus.
The following antituberculosis drugs are contraindicated in pregnant
Women who are being treated for drug-resistant TB should receive
counseling concerning the risk to the fetus because of the known
and unknown risks of second-line antituberculosis drugs.
Breastfeeding should not be discouraged for women being treated
with the first-line antituberculosis drugs because the concentrations
of these drugs in breast milk are too small to produce toxicity
in the nursing newborn. For the same reason, drugs in breast milk
are not an effective treatment for TB disease or LTBI in a nursing
infant. Breastfeeding women taking INH should also take pyridoxine
(vitamin B6) supplementation.
For More Information
of tuberculosis. MMWR 2003; 52 (No. RR-11).
American Thoracic Society/CDC. Targeted
tuberculin testing and treatment of latent TB infection. (PDF)
MMWR 2000: 49(No. RR-6)
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Guidelines
for using the QuantiFERON®-TB Gold test for detecting Mycobacterium
tuberculosis infection, United States. (PDF) MMWR
2005; 54 (No. RR-15).
Last Reviewed: 05/18/2008
Content Source: Division of Tuberculosis Elimination
National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention