Is It Safe To Take Zyrtec While You're Pregnant?
Any pregnant woman is advised to consult with their physician if they currently take or are thinking about taking Zyrtec tablets, more commonly known as Cetirizine. There are a variety of doctors that do not recommend this particular drug while pregnant due to the fact that long-term effects it can have on the fetus are at this stage is unknown. For this reason various pregnant women prefer to look for alternatives in order to eliminate any risks.
Can You Use Zyrtec When Pregnant?
Zyrtec is classified as a Pregnancy Category B by the well-known FDA (Food and Drug Administration). What this means is that this drug is suggested for use during pregnancy when it is only absolutely necessary or when the advantages far outweigh any risks. In studies conducted on animals, there were no results that showed up any type of harm to an unborn fetus – even when high doses of the drug were used.
However, the studies involving pregnant women are not sufficient enough, which means that any potential risks are still unknown.
A recent study on 39 pregnant women revealed that the exposure to Cetirizine during the stages of the early part of fetal development had no effects on the outcome of these pregnancies. These results also failed to reveal increases in risks related to premature births, spontaneous abortions, stillbirths or birth defects. The majority of the participants were using Zyrtec for the treatment of urticaria and rhinitis. Another observational study conducted in the UK produced similar results. This study involved 20 women whereby 4 of these women chose elective “spontaneous abortions” while the remaining 16 woman gave birth to infants that were perfectly normal.
Despite the fact that the above mentioned findings seem to be reassuring, this is not to say it completely rules out any possibilities of a risk to an infant. In fact studies that are well-controlled are still needed in order to gain a full understanding of the effects associated with Zyrtec (Cetirizine) on the outcome of the pregnancy as well as the infant.
The ACAAI (American College of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology), along with the ACOG (American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists) advise that there are other antihistamine types which are regarded as a safer option while pregnant. Two of these include Tripelennamine and Chlorpheniramine. The second-generation antihistamines like Loratadine (Claritin) and Cetirizine (Zyrtec) should only be a consideration for patients that are not responding or the patients that are unable to tolerate topical therapies related to the antihistamine. When possible, a drug such as Zyrtec should only be considered for use once the 1st trimester is complete.
Can Zyrtec Be Taken While Breastfeeding?
In the studies conducted on animals, it revealed that Zyrtec were passed into the breast milk. The lack of studies related to humans means that it is not clear whether this drug does makes its way into the breast milk of a breastfeeding mother. However, the consideration of the animal studies and the chemical characteristics of the drug, it is highly likely that this medication will pass into the breast milk. For this reason, manufacturers do not suggest the use of Zyrtec while breastfeeding.
Occasional or lowered doses of Zyrtec in breastfeeding woman is said not to be problematic, but prolonged use and higher doses could possibly lead to side-effects to the child.
Exposure to the drug Zyrtec from breast milk may cause colicky symptoms, irritability and drowsiness. In addition, the higher doses of types of antihistamines have the ability to inhibit prolactin that is vital in the process of forming breast milk.
In cases where antihistamines have to be used during breastfeeding, the BSACI (British Society and Clinical Immunology) suggests the lowest dose possible. In addition, there are various similar drugs which are not as likely to cause any side effects to the baby. These include Claritin, Allegra and Clarinex.
For the women who do not have bad symptoms, a physician can suggest other types of treatments. This may include relying on saline nasal-sprays or allergy-proofing the home. However, if the allergy symptoms are a significant issue such as disrupting the pregnant woman’s sleep or maybe finding it hard to breathe, the medication is usually a better choice for the health of the pregnant woman and her baby. For women that suffer from allergic-asthma, the medications need to be taken as they have been prescribed. Asthma that is not treated while pregnant can lead to serious issues during a pregnancy.
Is It Safe?
For a woman who is planning on falling pregnant or is already expecting a baby, it is always best to talk to a physician about any medications they may be taking including the types that do not require a prescription. During the 1st trimester of pregnancy, it is not advisable to take any decongestants through the mouth. These may increase the chances of birth defects. It is also advisable to be aware of decongestants that have been combined with antihistamines. This is because there is to date far too little evidence on how safe they are.
The general consensus on oral antihistamines is that drugs such as Loratadine, Allegra, Benadryl, Chlor-Trimeton and Zyrtec are all regarded as relatively safe. In addition nasal sprays such as Rhinocort, Nasalcrom and Cromolyn are also said to be a better option as the drug targets the nose area and does not travel through the body.