A new warning has been issued for pregnant women about the dangerous effects of taking cold medications during pregnancy. Experts at the CTIS (California Teratogen Information Service) division of Pregnancy Health Information issued the warning. The non-profit organization sends out warnings concerning health risks associated with exposure during pregnancy and while breastfeeding.
The use of cold medications during pregnancy is of particular concern during the winter months when cold symptoms are most active. Women calling the non-profit consistently ask the same questions about potentially dangerous ingredients found in over-the-counter cold medications. Doctors at CTIS have collected five tips for women who suffer from cold symptoms and want to take over the counter medication to relieve those symptoms.
Tip 1: Take only the amount you need to feel better. There are directions on every over the counter cold medication. Pregnant women should follow the dosing directions to the letter and never take more than they need to feel better. If symptoms are fading, stop taking the medication. Also choose medications that contain only the ingredients you need. If you have a runny nose and headache, don’t take a cold medication with an ingredient to fight cough.
Tip 2: Skip the oral decongestant and use saline drop of saline nose sprays instead. Most research finds that oral decongestants are safe for use during pregnancy, but there are some studies that show oral decongestants may cause vascular issues in the fetus when taken during the first 12 to 14 weeks of pregnancy.
Tip 3: Skip herbal ingredients. Herbal supplements and medications are not tested in pregnant women. If it has not been tested, it should not be considered safe.
Tip 4: Skip the vitamin C and zinc drops. Pregnant women should consume no more than 110 mg of vitamin C and 11 mg of zinc. Using throat lozenges with these ingredients can quickly cause an overload. The other ingredient in throat lozenges is sugar. Ease throat pain with a lollipop instead of a medicated drop.
Tip 5: Look on the label for alcohol. While the risk of fetal alcohol syndrome from taking cold medication is low, there is still a risk. Avoid the risk by taking cold medications with no alcohol.
For more information on the best cold medications for use during pregnancy, talk with your obstetrician.
Source: CTIS Pregnancy Health Information Line. 19 December, 2011.