Arizona Pregnancy Riskline Experts Offer Advice About Cold Medications in Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Top Remedy Tips For Moms Battling Colds This Holiday Season
TUCSON, Ariz. – Experts in pregnancy and breastfeeding health at the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline provide the following suggestions for the treatment of common colds. The Pregnancy Riskline is housed at the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy and aims to educate women and their health-care providers about exposures during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
"Every year around this time, we get a significant number of calls from pregnant and breastfeeding women in Arizona who are battling colds and are worried about which medications they can use," said Dee Quinn, a certified genetic counselor and director of the riskline.
The top-five cold remedy tips during pregnancy and breastfeeding are:
  1. Less is More. Remember that “less is more," or, rather, less is recommended when it comes to treating colds during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Many cold remedies have 3-6 ingredients, such as a nasal decongestant, fever reducer and cough medicine. For example, if you have a cough, avoid a combination drug that includes a nasal decongestant and fever reducer. Remember, take only those medications that are needed for your specific symptoms. Ask your health-care provider or pharmacist if you need help selecting medications.
  2. Oral Decongestion Alternatives. While the majority of studies looking at oral decongestants during pregnancy are reassuring, it's best to avoid these products in the first trimester if possible. Pregnant women could consider saline drops or a short-term nasal spray decongestant alternative. 
  3. Fever. Tylenol (acetaminophen) is the medication of choice for treating a fever in pregnancy and breastfeeding. Some studies suggest an untreated fever of over 101 degrees can lead to birth defects. If you have a fever, you should contact your health-care provider. 
  4. Herbal Ingredient Warning. Watch out for herbal ingredients in many over-the-counter medications. Chances are the herbals have not been studied in pregnancy. 
  5. Throat Lozenges and Vitamin Overload. Throat lozenges contain mostly sugar, but some may contain other ingredients such as zinc or vitamin C. When taking vitamin C, the recommended total daily allowance in pregnancy is 80-100 mg per day and zinc is11 mg per day.
  6. Cough Syrups and Alcohol. Some cough syrups contain as much as 10 percent alcohol. Try to get alcohol-free cough syrup. 

Contact: Dee Quinn, Arizona Pregnancy Riskline, P: 520-626-3410 or 888-285-3410

About the Arizona Pregnancy Riskline
The Arizona Pregnancy Riskline is part of the Arizona Poison and Drug Information Center, located at the University of Arizona College of Pharmacy. The Arizona Pregnancy Riskline is dedicated to providing accurate, evidence-based, clinical information to patients and health-care professionals about exposures during pregnancy and lactation through its toll-free hotline, at 888-285-3410 and website,