You need to be very careful when taking any medication during pregnancy. Medications are excluded completely whenever possible. This is because it is impossible to test their effect on the fetus empirically with accurate results.
Women suffering from various types of allergies should understand that antihistamines cannot guarantee the safe development of the fetus. We need to look for alternative ways to relieve symptoms that will ensure the well-being of the pregnant woman. Let’s take a closer look at allergy medications and their potential and direct effects on pregnancy.
What are antihistamines and how do they work?
Antihistamines are a group of drugs that block histamine. This neurotransmitter affects the respiratory tract, stomach, skin, and mucous membranes, causing swelling, irritation, rash, and itching. The increased influence of histamine receptors stimulates the appearance of allergic reactions.
Allergy remedies affect blood vessels, and uterine tone and have unverified results of the action of the active substance. Modern pharmacology is rich in a variety of antihistamines, many of which do not have pregnancy contraindications. You should always consult with your doctor to evaluate the benefits and harms of antihistamines.
Do allergy symptoms affect pregnancy?
It doesn’t matter if you have a seasonal allergy or not, its symptoms do not affect the fetus and the course of pregnancy. A stuffy nose, itching, rash, and coughing cause discomfort to the woman herself, but this situation does not harm the child. Only strong spasms when coughing can theoretically change the tone of the uterus.
Allergic symptoms are just a reaction of a woman’s body to allergens. Immune complexes that respond to a trigger do not get to the fetus through the placenta. Your child is safe. It is possible not to use any drugs if the symptoms are quite bearable and seasonal.
What are the dangers of allergy medication for pregnant women?
There is no way to accurately assess the likely risks of complications from taking antihistamines. Only a few obvious results may indicate the effect of antiallergic drugs on the fetus or the course of pregnancy. Here is an example of the most famous:
Some allergy medications can cause chronic vasospasm in the developing placenta. Spontaneous miscarriage occurs due to such a reaction. This result is a rare but quite obvious reaction to the side effect of antihistamines. Vasospasm is a treatment for allergy symptoms but a fatal outcome for pregnancy.
Change in eating behavior
This result from taking antiallergic drugs is most often observed in the last stages of gestation. A woman may lose her appetite and stop eating regularly. A pregnant woman has a false aversion to healthy foods. Bulimia may appear, which will provoke uncontrolled absorption of food and excessive weight gain. This effect of antihistamines is also not so common. Predicting the likelihood of such effects is unrealistic.
Transient neurological symptoms in newborns
Sometimes the effects of taking allergy medications appear only after the birth of the baby. These include neurological problems. The most common are lethargy, inactivity, hypothermia, prolonged jaundice, and marbling of the skin. The reason for this reaction is most likely a long-term effect of antihistamines on neurotransmitters.
Problems with the gastrointestinal tract of newborns
Diarrhea in newborns has been observed after taking certain allergy medications. This happens especially often if a woman uses antihistamines in the last months of gestation.
Is there a risk of birth defects from taking antihistamines?
The latest CDC research is based on an analysis of more than 50 scientific papers and laboratory experiments regarding the effects of antihistamines on the fetus. The results of this work are quite encouraging. The risk of birth defects is not as high as expected according to the researchers’ conclusion.
It turned out that most allergy drugs do not lead to external or internal pathologies in the fetus. Not all drugs have been studied and more thorough and specific studies are needed to prove the safety of these drugs.
Only in 9 cases was an association of antihistamines with birth defects in the fetus out of 54 analyzed studies found. This is only 17%. Whether it’s too little or too much, you are the judge. Weigh the risks together with your doctor.
What allergy medications should not be taken during pregnancy?
We will not list specific brands of allergy medicines but only focus on the principles of action and composition. You need to seriously approach the issue of taking drugs during pregnancy if you have allergies. Consider the main prohibited antihistamines:
Pronounced anxiolytic effect of hydroxyzine
Taking such drugs causes transient hypotension in newborns, especially in the third trimester. CNS and respiratory depression in newborns are also common adverse outcomes. There are frequent cases of spontaneous abortions and fetal malformations.
Hydroxyzine crosses the placental barrier and thereby increases the concentration of the drug in the fetus. It is much higher than that of the mother, which is the most toxic and life-threatening for the baby.
Vasoconstrictor drugs (Decongestants)
All pregnant women and qualified doctors know that vasoconstrictor drugs are prohibited during pregnancy. This is because their action is not narrowly focused and local. It remains systemic, which can lead to chronic vasospasm in the placenta. This is fraught with the loss of a child.
Avoid combination products containing phenylephrine and pseudoephedrine. These components were associated with the occurrence of malformations in newborns: the abdominal wall, intestines, and face.
Preparations based on diphenhydramine
Such allergy remedies have a pronounced activity. They may be prescribed in extreme cases if there is no replacement. The essence of the work of such allergy drugs is to relax smooth muscles as a result of an antispasmodic effect. Diphenhydramine also has a sedative effect, the effect of which is unpredictable for the fetus.
The main danger of dimedrol-based drugs is that they increase the excitability of the uterus, which provokes a miscarriage.
Their use during pregnancy can be dangerous for the fetus. Not a single specialist will simply prescribe GCS (glucocostic steroids) to a pregnant woman. We need to look for more gentle alternatives in case of emergency. The consequences of taking hormonal drugs are not predictable.
Defects in the appearance of born offspring have been noted in animals to which such preparations were applied. The results of observations of a person did not show frequent pathologies, but cases of exposure were recorded. In severe cases, it is better to give preference to drugs with lower bioavailability.
Will my child have allergies if not taking antihistamines?
The fact that an unborn child has an allergy does not depend on whether you are taking antihistamines or not. It is important whether the parents have an allergy and whether it is congenital, seasonal, or acquired.
According to studies, it has been established that if the father is allergic, then the probability of an allergy in a child is 30%. If the mother – 45%. The likelihood of an allergy in a child increases from 60 to 80% if both parents have allergies.
In the 21st century, there is such a trend that healthy parents have a probability of allergies in children from 5 to 16%. This is due to a large number of factors: the mother’s nutrition, ecology, and an abundance of chemistry. Seasonal allergies of the parents do not affect the fetus. Taking antihistamines will not protect the baby from developing allergies. It will also not affect the result if you do not take them.
Can you take OTC antihistamines while pregnant?
Antihistamines can be prescription or over-the-counter. There is a common misconception among the population that if the drug is dispensed without a prescription, then it is harmless. This is fundamentally wrong! Always carefully read the instructions, and study the composition, contraindications, and features of the action of the components of the drug.
OTC drugs are no different from prescription drugs and can also be dangerous to the fetus. They are often used to relieve symptoms of asthma, swelling of the nasal mucosa, and rashes. Even topical ointments can be harmful if they have a high degree of penetration. Always consult your doctor before using a medicine.
A Healthy Alternative to Allergy Remedies
You can completely do without the use of drugs if your allergy is not severe. Consider the simplest ways to reduce allergic symptoms during the gestation period:
Remove triggers – This is the main point of the fight against allergies. Its essence is not to come into contact with objects and environments that cause you allergic reactions. It is necessary to relocate pets, not to visit parks and places where there are a lot of flowering plants, and not to bring flowers into the house. Avoid foods that you are allergic to. Do not use household chemicals, medicines, or cosmetics that contain allergens.
Irrigation of the nose – It is advisable to irrigate the nasal mucosa with a special saline solution every morning during seasonal allergies. You can prepare this solution yourself using distilled water. It is permissible to take boiled water or well filtered. Use sea salt for the solution.
Physical activity – Physical exercise works well if allergy symptoms are expressed in severe swelling of the nose. They relieve swelling, free the sinuses of excess mucus and normalize blood circulation and lymph flow. You will feel better and your symptoms will subside.
Regular wet cleaning – Many allergic reactions are associated with a lot of dust in the house. It is recommended to regularly clean your premises with a powerful vacuum cleaner. After all, surfaces are free of dust, it is worth wiping them with a damp cloth. You need to do this at least 3 times a week.
Airing the house – There is nothing more invigorating than fresh air. It is recommended to ventilate your home for several hours a day if there are no actively flowering plants and a busy road nearby. Especially effective is airing after wet cleaning and before going to bed.
Air purifiers – There are special air purifiers that have replaceable filters. They do a good job of fighting allergens that enter the body from the air. Choose only proven and reliable companies of similar devices that have undergone experimental testing and have quality marks.
Drinking regime – Try to drink more often during allergy season. This will help reduce the concentration of influencing substances, cleanse the body and support the immune system. It is better to drink bottled water. Never drink water from natural sources and dubious reservoirs.
Is it possible to completely stop taking antihistamines during pregnancy?
You need to weigh all the risks to decide taking antihistamines during pregnancy. You will not be able to refuse allergy medications if the result of the intake is vital for you.
For example, medications must be taken strictly as prescribed by a doctor for allergic asthma. You will not find a substitute for this drug therapy. The consequences of refusal will lead to uncontrolled asthma symptoms that are extremely dangerous for the fetus.
You can completely stop taking medications for the sake of your child only if you have seasonal and mild allergies. It is possible to avoid taking medications if you know exactly what the allergen is. Just cut him out of your life.