31.08.2014

Safe allergy medicine when pregnant

The kinds of questions that counselors receive at MotherToBaby over the phone or through live online chat are heavily affected by the season; sunless tanner, sunscreen, allergy medications, and air travel questions in the spring and summer, and cold, flu remedy and flu vaccine quesions in the fall and winter. Fever is a concern in pregnancy and studies in both humans and animals have found an association with birth defects. If flu is suspected, it’s important to call your doctors office when your symptoms start and let them know because they will likely want to prescribe you antivirals.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID): For most healthy pregnant women, over-the-counter pain relievers such as ibuprofen, naproxen and aspirin are generally not recommended during pregnancy.
NSAIDs are associated with a risk for premature closure of the ductus arteriosus (a heart and lung condition) in the baby if the medication is used in late pregnancy, at higher doses.
The most concerning aspect of flu is the fever and the goal in pregnancy is to reduce and manage the fever. Herbal combinations in high doses have not been studied in pregnancy, therefore benefit and risk are not known, and regulation of dose per tablet has not been established.
That’s not to say that cold and flu disappears come spring, it's just easier to spread viruses when friends and family spend more time indoors, sharing our cold and flu bugs with one another. In humans, a high fever, 101 degrees and higher over 24 hours in length, has been associated with an increased risk for defects of the abdomen, heart and spinal cord if the fever occurs at the time in early pregnancy when those organs are forming.


Concerns about infant botulism and warnings that children under one year of age avoid honey (and honey-containing products) have been misunderstood and many pregnant women think it applies to them as well.
For pregnant women the most reassuring part is that it uses only water (use only previously boiled, distilled or sterile water to irrigate) so there is no medication involved and no exposure to the pregnancy.
Electric blanket use in pregnancy is seen as controversial by some as some studies have suggested that there could be a risk from the heat or from the electricity.
However, there are pregnant women who continue to take these medications at specific doses under doctor’s supervision due to an underlying medical condition, and they benefit by taking them. Many pregnant women take prenatal vitamins and get vitamins from many foods that are supplemented, therefore additional vitamins and minerals may not be necessary or beneficial. Additionally, flu in pregnant women is associated with a higher risk for complications, and even death. Nasal strips do not contain medication and work by spreading the nose and widening the air passage, therefore a concern does not exist for use in pregnancy. There is a theoretical concern that as with fever, if use of the heat source raised body temperature to 101 F or higher for an extended period of time during early pregnancy, there might be an increased risk for birth defects. As we do not know the effect of over-supplementing on vitamins during pregnancy, and it has not been proven that any specific vitamin can prevent or shorten colds, it’s important to read the product labels and follow the recommended dietary allowance for pregnancy.


We have a fact sheet on influenza that explains in greater detail the issues surrounding flu in pregnancy and the importance of the flu vaccine in preventing flu. In pregnancy, generally, it’s preferable to take a medication that has the least number of ingredients, taking ingredients that address the specific symptoms.
While there are no studies on the use of shower tablets during pregnancy, the ingredients are used in many candles, lotions and many other home products so exposure is likely already quite extensive. The studies on electric blanket use during pregnancy have many limitations and have not consistently shown an adverse effect to pregnancy. To date, information has not suggested that there would be a concern with use of shower tablets during pregnancy.
Studies on acetaminophen use during pregnancy have not identified an increased risk for birth defects (see our fact sheet on acetaminophen for more details). These factors limit the potential exposure for the developing pregnancy fetus and as such are a preferable option to oral for congestion from colds during pregnancy.



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