Q: I'm eight weeks along in my pregnancy and have a cold. Can I take an over-the-counter remedy?
A: Probably, but check with your doctor or another expert first. "The data suggest that the ingredients in the majority of cold medications are safe during pregnancy," says Myla Moretti, M.Sc., president of the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists (OTIS). "Still, people sometimes take the wrong medications or the wrong amount for their symptoms." If your cold is accompanied by a fever, that definitely warrants a call to your doctor to rule out a more serious illness, such as the flu, and to get immediate treatment, Moretti says. "Fever in early pregnancy is associated with NTDs [neural-tube defects], such as spina bifida," she explains. Because these defects occur at around 6 weeks—often before a woman even knows she's pregnant—Moretti says it's important for all women of childbearing age to treat a fever promptly. (Acetaminophen is safe and effective.) "It is important to treat all illnesses during pregnancy," she adds. "Sometimes women feel that not taking something is the safer route, but that's not always the case." To learn what's a safe remedy and what isn't, call the OTIS hotline at 866-626-6847 or visit otispregnancy.org.