Pregnancy is a time when you have to avoid several drugs to take care of the well-being of your baby and also your long-term health. Phenylephrine is one such medicine which is not recommended during pregnancy for its potential side effects on your baby.
If you have taken the drug mistakenly, or your general physician administered it before you knew you were pregnant, talk to your doctor about it. But before that, continue to read here to understand more about the tabooed drug phenylephrine during pregnancy.
What Is Phenylephrine?
Phenylephrine is a type of decongestant that alleviates various symptoms of cold and allergies, such as discomfort or pressure in the nasal passage and temples, and sinus congestion. It also helps to soothe any swelling that occurs in the blood vessels in the nasal passage as well as in the Eustachian tubes. The Eustachiantubes remove fluid from the inner part of your ears.
The drug is mostly sold on a prescription as a stand-alone or a combination medicine. In some countries it is available as an over-the-counter medicine.
[ Read: Pseudoephedrine During Pregnancy ]
Safety Of Phenylephrine During Pregnancy
There are not many medical studies or research data available on the safety of phenylephrine in pregnant women. However, the few studies that have been done prove that it is extremely harmful to take the drug while you are pregnant, especially during the first trimester.
Studies Prove Adverse Effects Of Phenylephrine On The Fetus
Here is a case study that shows the effects of phenylephrine on the unborn baby when the mother took it during the first trimester.
According to some studies that were performed as specific case-control methods, pregnant women who took phenylephrine during the first trimester gave birth to babies with birth defects. One birth defect that was found in those babies was a condition referred to as endocardial cushion defect. It is a congenital condition in which the baby is born with an abnormal heart condition. The heart consists of walls that help to separate its four chambers. In babies who are born with this specific condition, the walls are not formed properly and hence the four chambers of the heart are not separated the way they are supposed to.
The studies also show that taking the drug during the first trimester can be extremely risky as there is a direct change in the heart rate of the fetus after the mother takes the medication. It is not clear whether the drug can cross your placenta and reach your unborn baby.
The drug can also reduce blood flow to your uterine resulting in fetal hypoxia.
[ Read: Tips To Deal With Cold During Pregnancy ]
US FDA Classification Is Pregnancy Category C
According to the US FDA, phenylephrine is classified as a pregnancy category C drug, which means that it is not safe to use it while you are pregnant. A pregnancy category C status is given to those medicines which have not been tested on humans during pregnancy but have been tested on pregnant animals and show adverse effects on the fetus. The status is also given to those medications which have not been tested on any pregnant women or animals.
This also means that potential benefits on pregnant women may allow the doctor to prescribe the drug in spite of the risks.
Taking phenylephrine while pregnant is something you should avoid during those crucial weeks in your life. Talk to your doctor and see if there are any alternative methods to overcome your health issue, so that you are on the safer side.
In the case you have used phenylephrine while pregnant, do share your experience with your fellow readers of MomJunction, and alert them on its benefits and risks.
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