Pregnant women are frequently warned to avoid medications because they might be harmful for the fetus. But over-the-counter drugs are often perceived as safe, even during pregnancy.

A new study suggests that women should avoid oral decongestants because of a possible link to rare birth defects. Ingredients such as phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine are found in many OTC allergy, cold and sinus remedies. Researchers found an association between such drugs and heart or limb defects.

These problems are so rare that the heart defect the researchers detected occurs among only 3 babies in 10,000 births. Even tripling the risk means the condition is still extremely rare. Still, mothers-to-be would be wise to avoid decongestants during pregnancy.

[American Journal of Epidemiology, online, July 3, 2013]

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  1. LauraP

    I’m pregnant with my second child and have had 3 head colds in 5 months ( when you have a little one sick, you usually get sick, too – it’s part of the deal:)~ What I have found to work best is( in addition to sleeping a more if possible) drinking a combination of 1) “tomato tea” (served hot — sip it all day), 2) Apple Cider Vinegar “tea (served cold or hot three times a day), and then 3) a lemon juice, ginger juice and cayenne pepper “tea” (hot) as often as desired.
    Tomato tea contains garlic (which works on the infection) — ideally 5-6 cloves smashed– in tomato juice with the juice of one lemon and dashes of as much cayenne pepper that you can stand. Apple Cider Vinegar does a whole host of good – when sick I up my daily serving to 2 Tablespoons in each “tea”. The lemon, ginger cayenne pepper tea is also good for a number of reasons. I can feel a difference immediately with each of these “teas” – like baby steps getting well.
    Longest I’ve been down with a cold – 5 days. Sleep is definitely important. The times I was able to get more sleep, the cold went away faster.
    Would love to know what other moms do in absence of an OTC remedy for head colds!

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