The idea of pregnancy can be scary for women who take antihistamines daily. The reason that it’s scary to become pregnant when you rely on these drugs to help with allergies, hives, or asthma is because it’s commonly suggested that you stop taking them while pregnant. Claritin is a very popular drug; in fact it was the most widely marketed and prescribed antihistamine during the late 1990’s and is still among the most popular since it is now sold over the counter. The popularity of the drug means that many women were taking Claritin when they became pregnant, and this inspired debate and accusation that Claritin actually causes birth defects.
Luckily, the manufacturers and the CDC as well as the FDA got together and did some research to find out if Claritin is safe for women to take during pregnancy. An extensive amount of research and drug trials were done and the results said conclusively that Claritin does not cause birth defects or problems in the pregnancy. This does not mean that Claritin is the preferred antihistamine for you to take during pregnancy, but for some women it’s not a choice.
If your body will tolerate other choices, most doctors will recommend chlorpheniramine and tripelennamine as drugs more suitable during pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you can take these medications for just the first trimester, your doctor will usually be more comfortable with you going back on Claritin to keep your symptoms under control. If you cannot tolerate other drugs, you and your doctor will have to weigh the risks and benefits of continuing the medication. In short, Claritin is safe during pregnancy though other drugs are preferred first choices. Though Claritin is best taken after the first trimester, no birth defects are associated with the drug.
Many women also worry about breastfeeding their children while taking Claritin. Claritin does pass through the breast milk, but it’s usually in such small amounts that there will be no side effects. The American Academy of Pediatrics says that Claritin is “usually compatible with breastfeeding” meaning that most infants will not experience negative side effects. Your pediatrician will usually be able to tell you what signs or symptoms to look for that suggest your baby will not tolerate the Claritin.
The health and comfort of the mother is the priority during pregnancy, and although Claritin may not be a first choice, sometimes it’s the only choice. In situations like this a mother has to do what is better for her, knowing any risks that might be associated. Thankfully, Claritin causes no increased risk of birth defect, so if you need it, you can probably keep taking it with no ill effects.