Teratogen Information Service (CTIS) Pregnancy Health Information is a California non-profit organization located at the University of California, San Diego. One of its goals is to inform the public about harmful exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding. This organization’s experts recently came out with an advisory cautioning pregnant women about cough and cold medications and the potential dangers these medications can have on the fetus.
Image Source: CDC
Two of their experts, Dr. Christina Chambers and Sonia Alvarado have created a list of tips for potential mothers suffering with colds this winter. Keep in mind, this advice is for those women who prefer to self-medicate without wanting to bother their healthcare provider. I say, “Bother them.” They want to be bothered in order to keep Mom and Baby safe.
Anyway, to summarize CTIS’ advice:
- Less is more; combination therapy exposes Mom and the fetus to drugs that may not be needed. Why take a cough-cold-decongestant when you only have a cough?
- Avoid oral decongestants during the first trimester. Most studies see no problem, but consider trying saline drops or perhaps a short-term nasal spray decongestant first.
- Avoid herbal medications both stand-alone herbals and those contained in the more traditional cough-cold preparations. Why? According to CTIS, the side effects of these herbals have probably not been researched in pregnancy.
- Check the ingredients of the lozenge preparations. You may be getting more than you want or need. For example, some preparations contain zinc, and for the pregnant female, the daily allowance is 11 mg/day.
- Should a cough preparation be needed, get an alcohol-free cough syrup. Amazingly, it’s reported that some of these preparations contain up to 10% alcohol. More of a buzz than one would get from a can of beer.
The bottom line is that if you have questions or concerns, the safest bet is to either discuss with your healthcare provider or to talk with your local pharmacist. Why take chances with your baby?
If you would like to learn more about CTIS check out: http://www.otispregnancy.org/ or call the CTIS national affiliate, the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS), at 866-626-6847.
News Source: Medical News Today, 12/19/11 (http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/printerfriendlynews.php?newsid=239445)