OTC Medications, Pregnancy and Infants
By Lynn Fletcher, PharmD
Not too long ago, a lot of my friends got married and now they are all having babies. As the pharmacist in the bunch, I am always getting questions about which over-the-counter medications are okay to take and which are not. With a new baby in tow, my sister is the question master. So, I figured I’d write a blog in honor of her… because if she’s asking these questions, everyone else is thinking them!
Q: My allergies are bothering me. Can I take an antihistamine?
A: Chlorpheniramine is your best bet as far as antihistamines go. It has the best evidence to back it up. Loratadine and cetirizine are OK during the second and third trimester. If breastfeeding, take the antihistamine at nighttime and know that it may reduce milk supply.
Q: I’m out of pseudoephedrine. Can I take phenylephrine to make my nose stop running?
A: Yes. Decongestants have a low risk of malformations, but should be avoided during the first trimester. They are OK during the second and third. They may cause irritability in breastfed babies and decrease milk formation in the mother.
Q: My chest is congested. Can I take Mucinex?
A: It’s okay to take guaifenesin (Mucinex) and dextromethorphan during pregnancy, but they aren’t super effective. Keeping hydrated might be a better option. Be sure to avoid products with alcohol (Robitussin, etc) during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
Note: Always avoid codeine products. Malformations have been seen in pregnancy, as well as opioid toxicity in some breastfed infants.
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