New study evaluates the risk of birth defects among women who take antihistamines in pregnancy

September 16, 2013, Boston University Medical Center

Antihistamines are a group of medications that are used to treat various conditions, including allergies and nausea and vomiting. Some antihistamines require a prescription, but most are available over-the-counter (OTC), and both prescription and OTC antihistamines are often used by women during pregnancy. Until recently, little information was available to women and their health care providers on the possible risks and relative safety of these medications in pregnancy, particularly when it came to specific birth defects.

A new study from Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center, based on interviews with more than 20,000 , now provides important information for many of these medicines. The researchers considered antihistamines that had been suggested in earlier studies to increase risks of certain defects, and they also considered other possible risks that might not have been identified in the past. Where there was sufficient information in the study data, the authors found no evidence to support suggestions of risk that had been found in earlier studies. In considering possible risks that had not been identified by others, the investigators found very few suggestions that any given medicine might be linked to an increase risk of a specific birth defect, and though these few deserve further research attention, these findings may have been due to chance. The study currently appears in Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology: In Practice.

Dr. Allen Mitchell, the study's director, noted that "we were fortunate that our study was able to consider commonly-used antihistamines that were available OTC as well as those available only with a prescription. While our findings provide reassurance about the relative safety of many of these medications in relation to a number of common , more information is needed. As is the case for all types of medications, women who are pregnant or may become pregnant should consult with their health care provider before taking any medicines, whether they are prescribed or OTC."

Explore further: Widespread use of medications among pregnant women reported

Related Stories

Widespread use of medications among pregnant women reported

April 25, 2011
Researchers from Boston University's Slone Epidemiology Center, in collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Harvard School of Public Health, have reported widespread and increasing medication ...

Some painkillers tied to certain birth defects in study

September 11, 2013
(HealthDay)—Women taking prescription painkillers such as Oxycontin, Vicodin and Percocet early in pregnancy are twice as likely to give birth to babies with devastating neural tube defects such as spina bifida, a new study ...

Women with severe morning sickness who take antihistamines more likely to experience bad outcomes

June 10, 2013
Women with a severe form of morning sickness who take antihistamines to help them sleep through their debilitating nausea are significantly more likely to experience adverse pregnancy outcomes, including low birth weight ...

Renewed efforts from AAFP to repeal OTC provision in ACA

April 30, 2013
(HealthDay)—Members of the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) and other medical associations are urging further consideration of Section 9003 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) that requires ...

Planning pregnancy may cut birth defects

April 6, 2012
(HealthDay) -- Women who'd like to become pregnant -- especially those who are taking medications for chronic conditions -- may need to add something to their to-do list: Plan, plan, plan.

Recommended for you

Novel genomic tools provide new insight into human immune system

January 19, 2018
When the body is under attack from pathogens, the immune system marshals a diverse collection of immune cells to work together in a tightly orchestrated process and defend the host against the intruders. For many decades, ...

Genomics reveals key macrophages' involvement in systemic sclerosis

January 18, 2018
A new international study has made an important discovery about the key role of macrophages, a type of immune cell, in systemic sclerosis (SSc), a chronic autoimmune disease which currently has no cure.

First vaccine developed against grass pollen allergy

January 18, 2018
Around 400 million people worldwide suffer in some form or other from a grass pollen allergy (rhinitis), with the usual symptoms of runny nose, cough and severe breathing problems. In collaboration with the Viennese firm ...

Researchers discover key driver of atopic dermatitis

January 17, 2018
Severe eczema, also known as atopic dermatitis, is a chronic inflammatory skin condition that is driven by an allergic reaction. In their latest study, researchers at La Jolla Institute reveal an important player that promotes ...

Who might benefit from immunotherapy? New study suggests possible marker

January 16, 2018
While immunotherapy has made a big impact on cancer treatment, the fact remains that only about a quarter of patients respond to these treatments.

Researchers identify new way to unmask melanoma cells to the immune system

January 16, 2018
system, which enables these deadly skin cancers to grow and spread.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.