Pregnancy outcome after gestational exposure to terfenadine: A multicenter, prospective controlled study

Ronen Loebstein, Arieh Lalkin, Antonio Addis, Anabella Costa, Iona Lalkin, Maurizo Bonati, Gideon Koren

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

28 Scopus citations


Background: Terfenadine is a selective, nonsedative, H1-blocker antihistamine used for a variety of allergic conditions. The widespread popularity of terfenadine and its use by many women in their reproductive age raises concerns regarding its safety during pregnancy. Presently, no prospective controlled study has addressed its safety during gestation. Objective: We sought to determine whether terfenadine use during pregnancy is associated with an increased risk of major malformations, decreased birth weight, perinatal complications, or developmental delays. Methods: A multicenter, prospective controlled study was performed. Pregnant women exposed to terfenadine during gestation were matched with control subjects exposed to drugs not known to adversely affect pregnancy outcome. The primary end point was the incidence of major malformations. Secondary outcomes of interest were pregnancy outcome, rates of preterm delivery, birth weight, and developmental milestones. Results: One hundred eighteen women were exposed to terfenadine during pregnancy. Among those exposed during the first trimester (n = 65), rates of major malformations in the terfenadine group did not differ from rates in their matched control subjects (0% vs 2%; relative risk, 0.57; 95% confidence interval, 0.06-5.39; P = .53). The birth weight in the terfenadine-exposed newborns was significantly lower compared with that in their matched control subjects (3335 ± 582 vs 3499 ± 617 g; P = .04). However, the rates of birth weight below 2500 g and birth weight below the 10th percentile for gestational age were not different between the groups. Univariate and multiple regression analysis revealed that none of the terfenadine therapy-related factors (daily dose, duration of therapy, and trimester of exposure) had a significant predictive effect on birth weight. Gestational age at delivery, rates of preterm deliveries, and developmental milestones were comparable between the groups. Conclusions: On the basis of the limited sample size of this study, it appears that terfenadine is not associated with a 6-fold or greater increased incidence of major malformations. Terfenadine use during gestation was not associated with increased rates of prematurity or developmental delays. Further studies will be needed to confirm the finding of lower birth weight in newborns exposed to terfenadine.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)953-956
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology
Issue number5
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


  • Malformations
  • Pregnancy outcome
  • Terfenadine


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