10 Over-The-Counter Drugs to Avoid During Pregnancy


10 Over-The-Counter Drugs to Avoid During Pregnancy

Mothers-to-be get headaches and upset stomachs just like everyone else. So it’s not surprising that most pregnant women have used over-the-counter medications. In fact, some data suggest that, overall, women are actually more likely to use certain medications—including cough and cold drugs and acetaminophen (Tylenol, generic)—after they become pregnant.



“There’s a misperception that if a drug is available over-the-counter, that it’s approved by the Food and Drug Administration, so it must be safe for everyone, including pregnant women,” Allen Mitchell, M.D. professor of pediatrics and epidemiology at the Boston University School of Public Health and Medicine, said. “Even doctors may think this is the case.” But some OTC drugs have been shown to pose risks to the developing fetus at different stages of pregnancy.



To help you and your doctor make more informed choices about which medications to take, we’ve identified 10 common ingredients used in OTC drugs that are risky for pregnant women, as well as safer alternatives.







































































Drug


Found
in


Consumer
Reports'


recommendation


Possible


alternative


Aspirin


Bayer;
Excedrin


Migraine


Not recommended1


Tylenol


(acetaminophen)


Bismuth subsalicylate


Kaopectate;
Pepto


Bismol


Before
20 weeks
:


Use
with caution



After 20 weeks:

Not recommended


Imodium


(loperamide)


Bromphen-iramine


Dimetapp
Cold


and
Allergy


Before
36 weeks
:

Use with caution



After 36 weeks


(9th
month):

Not recommended


Claritin
(loratadine);


Zyrtec
(cetirizine)


Caffeine


Anacin
Regular


Strength;
Excedrin


Extra
Strength;


Excedrin
Migraine


Use with caution; To
reduce risk of miscarriage, do not exceed 200 milligrams daily, including
caffeine from coffee, tea, or soda.  


None


Castor Oil


    —


Do
not take—


unacceptable
risk


Increase physical
activity, drink more fluids and eat fiber-rich foods. Consider psyllium-
based fiber supplements.   


Chlorphen-iramine


Chlor-Trimeton; 


Combination


products:
Advil Allergy & Congestion Relief;


Alka-Seltzer
Plus Cold Formula; Dristan Cold


Before
36 weeks
:

Use with caution



After 36 weeks


(9th
month):

Not recommended


Claritin
(loratadine);


Zyrtec
(cetirizine)


Ibuprofen


Advil, Motrin


Weeks
14 to 26


(2nd
trimester):

Use with caution



Before 14 weeks


and
after 27 weeks


(1st
and 3rd trimester):

Not recommended


Tylenol


(acetaminophen)


Naproxen


Aleve


Weeks
14 to 26


(2nd
trimester):

Use with caution



Before 14 weeks


and
after 27 weeks


(1st
and 3rd trimester):

Not recommended


Tylenol


(acetaminophen)


Nicotine


Cigarettes and all
other forms of tobacco; Nicorette gum; Nicoderm CQ patches  


Not
recommended;


however
the benefits


of
gum or patches to help stop smoking


may
exceed


risks
of smoking during pregnancy.


None


Phenylephrine and
pseudo-ephedrine*


Products
containing pseudo-ephedrine
2: Advil Cold &
Sinus; Claritin-D; Sudafed 12 Hour





Products
containing phenylephrine: Alka-Seltzer Plus Day; Sudafed PE Pressure + Pain;
Tylenol Cold Multi-symptom; Vicks Dayquil Cold and Flu Relief


Before 14 weeks: (1st trimester):

Not recommended



After 14 weeks (2nd and 3rd trimester):

Use with caution


Drink plenty of
fluids, consider using steam to relieve congestion, avoid irritants like
tobacco smoke  


Even then, you should use alternatives judiciously, and only as advised by your health care provider. Experts refer to safer medications because, for 98 percent of prescription and OTC drugs, there simply isn’t enough data to say for sure that a drug is entirely safe to take during pregnancy. Due to ethical concerns, most FDA-approved medicines have not been tested in pregnant women.



Bottom line: If you are pregnant or may become pregnant, you should be extremely cautious about anything you take, including OTC and prescription medications, and all vitamins, supplements, and herbals.



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