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Let’s Clear This Up: Can You Take Cough Drops During Pregnancy?

When you’re pregnant, it seems like everything is off limits: sushi, caffeine, soft cheese—the list of taboo items goes on (and on and on).

That goes doubly for medications. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) both have entire websites dedicated to the topic of the meds pregnant women can and can’t take—NSAIDS like Advil, for instance, have been linked to higher rates of birth defects compared to pain medications like acetaminophen (Tylenol), per the CDC.

But what about cough drops? While, yes, they contain active ingredients for cough-suppressant purposes, they’re pretty tame as far as medications go. So can you reach for them when you’re dealing with a nasty cold—or no? (PS, thanks, compromised immune system!)

So what’s the deal? Can you take cough drops while pregnant?

Honestly, there’s not much info out there about the safety of cough drops during pregnancy, which can make the topic even more confusing. “There are no studies looking at the safety of menthol, the typical active ingredient in cough drops during pregnancy,” explains Dara Godfrey, RD, a dietitian at Reproductive Medicine Associates in New York.

But even without tons of research, the Cleveland Clinic says menthol cough drops are fine to take, as directed, during pregnancy. Mary Jane Minkin, MD, an ob-gyn and clinical professor at Yale School of Medicine also says that she has never told women they cannot take cough drops during pregnancy.

The same goes for dextromethorphan (the active ingredient in cough suppressant medicines) too, which the American Pregnancy Association deems safe for use during pregnancy.

But before you go stock up on cough drops and start popping them at even the slightest tickle, it’s always a good idea to touch base with your doctor before trying any new medicine while pregnant. And if you still aren’t comfortable taking cough drops while pregnant, sip on some hot water with lemon, ginger, and honey, says Godfrey, which can also help minimize your cough (because, let’s be real, any coughing during pregnancy is painful).

The bottom line: Assuming your doc’s in the loop, go ahead and take cough drops in moderation if you have a cold during pregnancy.

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