Most cough suppressants sold at the pharmacy contain dextromethorphan and now this seemingly benign ingredient has been found to be a possible cause of birth defects.
A recent study believes that dextromethorphan is so powerful that it can cause defects or miscarriage after just one dose. The findings are based on research on chicken embryos given concentrations of dextromethorphan relative to those typically taken by humans.
The researchers found that dextromethorphan can cause defects so early in the development of the embryo that in many cases the woman wouldn't even know she was pregnant at the time.
Not surprisingly, the researchers recommend that pregnant women, and those trying for a baby, should avoid all cough medicines and syrups that contain dextromethorphan (Pediatric Research 1998; 43: 1-7).
Dextromethorphan containing suppressants shouldn't be taken by people taking MAO inhibitors or who have asthma or any chronic cough or liver disease.