If You are Pregnant, Think Before You Reach into the Medicine Cabinet

Many over-the-counter drugs (OTCs)—those available without a prescription from a doctor—may be harmful to your unborn baby.

During pregnancy, always talk to your doctor before using any medicines including OTCs:

  • Some medicines can cause birth defects, especially during the first 3 months of pregnancy.
  • During pregnancy your body goes through changes that can affect the way OTCs work. There may be safer choices with lower risk to you and your baby.
  • OTCs can pass to your baby in the womb.

The next time you have a headache, upset stomach, a cold or the flu, ask a health care professional which OTCs are safest for you and your baby before you reach into the medicine cabinet. If you are unsure, the Carolinas Poison Center may be able to help.

Call the Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222. Specialists in poison information are available 24 hours a day to answer questions about the use of medicines during pregnancy. Calls are free and confidential.

Quick Tips:

  • Most OTC’s have never been tested in pregnant women and may be harmful.
  • The most common reason pregnant women use OTCs is for pain. If you have pain, always seek the advice of your doctor before taking any medicines during pregnancy.
  • OTCs can be especially dangerous during the first 3 months of pregnancy because that is when most fetal development occurs.

Call Carolinas Poison Center at 1-800-222-1222 if you have questions about taking medications while pregnant.