A woman’s use of decongestant medications in the first trimester of pregnancy may raise her child’s risk of certain rare birth defects, according to a small study.
Some types of over-the-counter decongestants, including the popular phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine, were individually linked to rare, specific birth defects of the digestive tract, ear and heart.
“Major birth defects of any kind affect about two to three percent of liveborn infants, so they are rare,” study author Dr. Allen Mitchell said. “The associations we identified involved defects that generally affect less than 1 per 1,000 infants. Some of them may require surgery, but not all are life-threatening.”
Decongestants are some of the most commonly used drugs, however, so fully understanding the consequences of taking them during pregnancy is important, said Mitchell, director of the Slone Epidemiology Center at Boston University.