So I have just been diagnosed with giardia, and I am currently about 14 weeks pregnant (I've had it pretty much since day one of the preganancy but couldn't get to the specialist until this week). I haven't had a chance to talk with the doctor yet (he's on vacation until Tues), but what he said before the testing was that for intestinal parasites they usually try to delay treatment as long as possible, but they do typically want to treat before the birth to avoid the risk of transmission to the newborn. I don't know if this will still hold for giardia, since some references online seem to suggest that it should only be treated after the birth.
I will of course wait to talk to my doctor before making any decisions about what to do, but in the meantime I thought I might post here in case anyone has been through this (or something similar) before?
It's my understanding that there are not any class A drugs available to treat giardia - there are some class B drugs, and one drug with no assigned class that is not well absorbed from the intestinal lumen and therefore thought to be relatively safe during pregnancy. I feel torn particularly, because the decision to treat or not (or how soon to treat it) seems to hinge on how "bad" I say that my symptoms are. I don't really want to take anything during pregnancy that I am not 99.99% sure is ok, but on the other hand, I'm really fed up with the idea of spending my whole pregnancy with painful intestinal cramps (not to mention embarrassing emergency runs to the bathroom where I may not quite make it in time). I can suck it up and make it through if I have to, but I just can't figure out if I really have to. I'm also not so sure that it is that great for the baby to have giardia (and the accompanying diarrhea, rashes, and malabsorption) for the whole duration of my pregnancy - there doesn't seem to be any evidence of harm to the fetus (as long as I don't get really dehydrated), but there isn't definitive proof that there are no longer term negative consequences either, any more than there is definitive proof that the class B drugs won't do any harm.
Is there anyone out there who has had this or a similar issue that would be willing to share what and how you decided what to do?
Thanks so much for taking the time to read my post!
DD born at 40w2d on 1/19/2011
EDD for number 2 on 2/28/2014
Wow, that sounds really, really tough.
Giardia is kind of serious intestinal parasite, that can really interfere with one's nutritional status, so I'm not thinking that not treating it is going to be an option. Most of my experience comes from the veterinary world, but I recall it gets worse if left untreated (think: never leaving bathroom).
I'm hoping you get some good answers from your specialist!
I would agree with Lauren; its always scary taking meds when you are pregnant, but the stress of a GI infection is not good for you or babe. I don't know much about treatment with humans, but this link may be helpful:
I would treat the giardia. FIrst I would see my naturopath because i know there are herbal tinctures she would make for me (as long as it was safe to take while pregnant) and if that didn't seem like a good avenue I would treat it conventionally down to a category C drug if I had to.
I understand the guilt of using medicine that we don't know much about, since I have been struggling with esophagitis since a few months before I accidentally got pregnant and it has just gotten worse from pregnancy and I have had to take drugs that I never needed to take with my first pregnancy. I don't think I even used Tylenol once in the first trimester with my first pregnancy and I often cry about it. But I know I have to take care of myself in order to take care of this baby that's growing inside of me. It's a bum deal, but I have to do it.
I'd try the naturopath route first as well. My dogs have been treated for it in the past and the drugs used can have nasty side effects as well as plain not work! Thankfully I now have a holistic vet for the doggie aspect and have treated it successfully with herbs and it's definitely the road I'd take for myself, preggo or not as a first step then go from there.
Sorry for taking a while to update - I've been writing various different responses back and forth in my head while trying to make up my mind about what to do...
I have ended up taking the drugs for treatment (Metronidazole specifically). The infectious diseases specialist, my midwife, and the backup OBGYN were all comfortable with this, and the infectious diseases guys said in particular that there had been more recent studies showing that this drug is safe in pregnancy even in the first trimester (although they still prefer not to treat in the first trimester unless absolutely necessary just to be extra conservative). So I just started taking it.
I'm not nuts about taking the drug, but I've been having watery diarrhea every day for 11 plus weeks now, and I've just been feeling worse and worse, and now seem to have signs of malabsorption of nutrients (e.g. anemic and magnesium muscle cramps despite strong oral supplementation), which worries me even more in terms of the health of the pregnancy/baby.
lauren, curebaby, and lightgarden, thanks for your encouragement to help me feel comfortable treating it - it is really helpful to feel supported when making a difficult decision!
ultrafighter, lightgarden and sassyfirechick, thanks for your feedback on alternatives. This is actually my third intestinal parasite. The first time around I got one while traveling in China, and it took 5 years to properly diagnose and treat, and the second and third ones I've had I've gotten over the last 9 months - I blame my 2 year old who wants to touch everything and who also puts her hands in her and everyone else's mouth... (We are working on that!) For whatever reason I just seem to be very sensitive to intestinal parasites and seem to get bad persistent symptoms with them whenever I am exposed. I have tried all the natural remedies in the past, but they just haven't worked for me (and they tend to make me very sick) - the only thing that I've ever found that got rid of the parasites have been drugs, unfortunately. (They also seem to be incredibly hard to correctly diagnose, but luckily I've found the infectious diseases specialist here who does a more specific and reliable test than the stool tests, and he has been able to find both of the last two parasites right away.)
Anyway, I just wanted to update here, to thank you all for reading my post, and to post an update in case someone else stumbles on this thread in future with a similar problem and finds this helpful. Thanks again for your support and feedback everyone!
DD born at 40w2d on 1/19/2011
EDD for number 2 on 2/28/2014
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