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Treating the common cold during pregnancy

Aida Erebara, MD, Pina Bozzo, Adrienne Einarson, RN and Gideon Koren, MD FRCPC

May 2008



Many of my pregnant patients inquire as to what medication they can use when they experience symptoms of the common cold, such as cough, congestion, sneezing, and fever. I am hesitant to recommend over-the-counter cold remedies because I have heard conflicting information regarding the safety of these products. What is known about the safety of cold medications during pregnancy?


Although there are many over-the-counter brands of cold medications, most products are quite similar, with some containing up to 5 medicinal ingredients. The evidence-based information for all these ingredients suggests no increased risk with short-term use. However, pregnant women should read labels carefully and, when necessary, consult with pharmacists to ensure they are not taking medicine they do not require.


Plusieurs de mes patientes enceintes me demandent quels médicaments prendre lorsqu'elles souffrent de symptômes du rhume, comme la toux, la congestion nasale, les éternuements et la fièvre. J'hésite à leur recommander des médicaments en vente libre contre le rhume, parce que j'ai entendu des renseignements contradictoires quant à leur innocuité. Que sait-on de la sécurité des médicaments contre le rhume durant la grossesse?


Même si les marques de médicaments en vente libre contre le rhume sont nombreuses, la plupart des produits se ressemblent beaucoup et certains contiennent jusqu'à 5 ingrédients médicinaux. Les renseignements fondés sur des données scientifiques ne font pas valoir de risque accru avec un usage de courte durée. Par ailleurs, les femmes enceintes devraient lire attentivement les étiquettes et consulter leur pharmacien au besoin pour s'assurer de ne pas prendre de médicaments dont elles n'ont pas besoin.

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