Pregnancy outcome following first trimester exposure to antihistamines: meta-analysis

Am J Perinatol. 1997 Mar;14(3):119-24. doi: 10.1055/s-2007-994110.


To determine the relative risk for major malformations associated with antihistamine (H1 blockers) exposure in the first trimester of pregnancy, a literature search of all studies examining the association between antihistamines and major malformations for the period 1960 to 1991 was conducted, followed by meta-analysis. Odds ratio was calculated using the Mantel-Haenszel method. Twenty-four controlled studies met the inclusion criteria with more than 200,000 participating women. The summary odds ratio of major malformations associated with antihistamines taken during the first trimester was 0.76 (95% CI: 0.60-0.94). This analysis indicates that H1 blockers used mainly for morning sickness during the first trimester do not increase the teratogenic risk in humans and may, in fact, be associated with a protective effect. More study is needed to verify the possibility that by preventing vomiting, antihistamines may ensure better metabolic conditions to the fetus and thus may reduce some birth defects. Alternatively, it is possible that pregnancies characterized by vomiting are associated with better outcome due to other reasons, such as hormonal status or placental function. Women suffering from morning sickness which is not controlled by nonpharmacological methods can safely use antihistamines.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / etiology*
  • Abnormalities, Drug-Induced / prevention & control
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Female
  • Fetus / drug effects
  • Fetus / metabolism
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / adverse effects*
  • Histamine H1 Antagonists / therapeutic use
  • Hormones / physiology
  • Humans
  • Hyperemesis Gravidarum / prevention & control
  • Odds Ratio
  • Placenta / physiology
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Outcome*
  • Pregnancy Trimester, First
  • Prenatal Exposure Delayed Effects*
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety
  • Teratogens


  • Histamine H1 Antagonists
  • Hormones
  • Teratogens