By Patty Adams Martinez
June 12, 2013
Taking antihistamines while pregnant could be harmful to baby

When I found out I was pregnant it was like I was back in college and needed to cram for a big exam. I was reading every pregnancy-related blog, magazine or book I could get my hands on so I could be prepared for what I—and my body—was about to go through. At my doctor's visits, I was the annoying kid in class who kept raising her hand to ask yet another question. What can I say? Even though I hate to admit it, I'm Type A.

The internet is both a blessing and a curse when you're pregnant, because you can Google anything and everything at any hour of the day to get answers, but there is so much conflicting information out there that you end up driving yourself crazy with worry.

I went into my check-ups thinking I had all of this medical knowledge from the internet, but most of the time my OB told me not to believe anything I read online—especially when it came to medications and what was safe to take during pregnancy. (And even more importantly, what wasn't safe during pregnancy!) She told me what I could and couldn't take for cramps and headaches—acetaminophen was ok, but ibuprofen and naproxen weren't—and seasonal allergies—she suggested I not take anything, though Benadryl and Claritin were widely considered acceptable online.

Now a new study published in the European Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Reproductive Biology conducted at UCLA with women who have hyperemesis gravidarum (HG), a severe form of morning sickness shared by Kate Middleton, show that those who took antihistamines (which are contained in many over the counter cold remedies, decongestants, sleep aids, and even products designed to relieve morning sickness) are significantly more likely to have premature births, babies with low birth weight, breathing and feeding problems, infections or developmental issues. In the study, more than 50 percent of the HG patients who experienced the above problems took some form of antihistamines.

While the study only proves a link between adverse birth outcomes in women with HG, it begs the question: Are antihistamines safe during pregnancy for any woman—whether she suffers from HG or not? Is taking something to relieve a short-term cold or allergy problem worth putting your unborn child at risk? Trying to figure this out on your own will drive you nuts. Consult your doctor before taking any over the counter medication—regardless of what you read on the internet. Your baby's health is worth the extra effort.

TELL US: Have you given up any medications while pregnant? 

Image of pills courtesy of Shutterstock.

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