You need to be logged in to see the full monograph.


Date of issue: April 2020, Version: 2

The carbapenems are broad-spectrum beta-lactam antibacterials that include ertapenem, imipenem and meropenem. Imipenem and meropenem are used for the treatment of severe hospital-acquired infections and polymicrobial infections. Ertapenem is used for the treatment of abdominal and gynaecological infections, pneumonia, and skin and soft tissue foot infections in people with diabetes.

There is extremely limited information on the use of carbapenem antibiotics during pregnancy and an evidence-based evaluation of risk to the fetus is therefore not currently possible. Where possible, the results of culture and sensitivity tests should be available before making a treatment choice in accordance with local prescribing guidelines. It is important to ensure adequate treatment of maternal infections in pregnancy as failure to treat may lead to adverse maternal and fetal effects as a consequence of uncontrolled infection or pyrexia.

Exposure to carbapenems at any stage in pregnancy would not usually be regarded as medical grounds for termination of pregnancy. Due to the lack of safety data and the likely severity of infections necessitating use of a carbapenem, additional fetal monitoring may be warranted and should be considered on a case-by-case basis. Other factors which may independently increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcome may also be present in individual cases. Clinicians are reminded of the importance of consideration of such factors when performing case-specific risk assessments.

This is a summary of the full UKTIS monograph for health care professionals and should not be used in isolation. The full UKTIS monograph and access to any hyperlinked related documents is available to NHS health care professionals who are logged in.

If you have a patient with exposure to a drug or chemical and require assistance in making a patient-specific risk assessment, please telephone UKTIS on 0344 892 0909 to discuss the case with a teratology specialist.

If you would like to report a pregnancy to UKTIS please click here to download our pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this monograph was accurate and up-to-date at the time of writing, however it cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes of the measures recommended. The final decision regarding which treatment is used for an individual patient remains the clinical responsibility of the prescriber. This material may be freely reproduced for education and not for profit purposes within the UK National Health Service, however no linking to this website or reproduction by or for commercial organisations is permitted without the express written permission of this service. This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from to ensure you are using the most up-to-date version.