With the sniffles and sneezes, fevers and freezes – how does a pregnant women know which over-the-counter cold medications are safe for use during pregnancy and which ones pregnant women should never take? The obstetrician or nurse midwife will typically offer a short list of approved over the counter cold medications for pregnant women, but some women feel they can take any remedies they like as long as it is sold in stores. Over the counter cold medications can be dangerous for women who are pregnant if they are not tested and considered safe for the fetus.
Pregnancy Risk Categories – How to Read Over the Counter Recommendations
A = Safe during pregnancy and backed with substantial human studies.
B = No conclusive human studies and animal studies show no fetal harm -or- conclusive human studies showing no harm to fetus and animal studies showing harm to fetus.
C = No conclusive human studies, animal studies show harm to fetus, no animal studies.
D = Conclusive human studies showing harm to fetus – benefit must outweigh risk of use.
X = Prohibited during pregnancy. Significant fetal harm or death.
Ibuprofen, Naproxen, Ketoprofen – Category D (3rd trimester) Should be avoided during the third trimester.
Aspirin – Category D (All trimesters) Should not be taken by pregnant women unless supervised closely by attending obstetrician.
Pseudoephedrine – Category C (All trimesters) Should not be taken in the first trimester of pregnancy as the over the counter cold medication could be linked to gastroschisis.
Guaifenesin – Category C (All trimesters) Avoid during the first three months of pregnancy as it may be linked to inguinal hernia.
Dextromethorphan – Category C (All trimesters) Unknown effect of ingredient on fetal brain growth. Use with caution during pregnancy.
Brompheniramine – Category C (All trimesters) Could be linked to fetal deformities including gastroschisis.
Tripolidine – Category C (All trimesters) May be associated with fetal deformities.
Echinacea – Not considered safe for use during pregnancy. Natural herb so no category designated.
Where Can These Over the Counter Cold Medication Ingredients by Found?
While the names of the individual ingredients can help a pregnant woman pinpoint the healthy and not so healthy over the counter cold medications for use during pregnancy, name brands are a bit easier to recognize. Name brand over the counter cold medications that may contain one or more of the above-mentioned ingredients include Anacin, Sudafed, Robitussin, Dimetapp and Actifed. For more information on specific medications, including prescription medications considered unsafe for use during pregnancy visit Otis Pregnancy or the Food and Drug Administration information page on Pregnancy and Medications.
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