Is it Safe to Take Dextromethorphan While Pregnant?

When a woman becomes pregnant, every substance she ingests can affect her fetus. This relates not only to food and beverages, but also to prescription medications, over-the-counter drugs, and illegal substances. For this reason, it is recommended women who are pregnant or are thinking about becoming pregnant remain as drug-free as possible before and during their pregnancy.

Dextromethorphan (DXM) is an over-the-counter cough suppressant. If you are wondering if you can take dextromethorphan while pregnant, it is considered relatively safe. Recent research has indicated that pregnant women do not have to worry about taking dextromethorphan during their pregnancy.

Previously, a widely publicized story indicated dextromethorphan could cause birth defects in chick embryos. This story has since been invalidated.

“Dextromethorphan has been on the market for many, many years, and until this embryo study was published, it was considered perfectly safe during pregnancy,” Adrienne Einarson, RN, of Ontario’s Hospital for Sick Children, said. “There was absolutely no evidence in humans to suggest this drug was harmful, but suddenly it was considered dangerous on the basis of this one animal study.”

If you have any questions about whether you should take dextromethorphan while pregnant, set up a meeting with your doctor. Your healthcare provider will be able to determine if taking the medication is a safe and effective treatment for you and your fetus, given their knowledge of your personal medical history.

Effects of Dextromethorphan on a Fetus

While taking dextromethorphan while pregnant is relatively safe, it is very important for pregnant women to monitor what goes into their bodies during the entirety of pregnancy. Taking dextromethorphan as directed will not cause a fetus to have birth defects.

It should be noted, however, that the overuse or misuse of dextromethorphan can negatively affect a pregnant woman and therefore, her fetus. Symptoms of misusing excessive amounts of dextromethorphan include confusion, dizziness, slurred speech, hallucinations, increased heart rate, impaired vision, seizures, and loss of motor skills. Additional long-term effects of dextromethorphan misuse include agitation, delusions, mood changes like depression and mania, problems with attention and memory consolidation, and liver damage. These long-term effects of dextromethorphan misuse can affect a fetus or newborn baby.

You should never take more dextromethorphan than the amount indicated. This medication can be psychologically addictive when misused.

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Medical Disclaimer

The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare providers.