Can Catching a Cold or Flu During Pregnancy Cause Miscarriage? (2023)

Winter is cold season,and it can be hard to avoid catching a virus during those months. Should you be especially worried about common winter viruses if you're pregnant? Could a cold, flu, or COVID-19 cause harm to a baby or trigger a miscarriage? Find out more below.

Miscarriage Risk

Although cold and flu viruses can certainly make you uncomfortable (especially if you're pregnant and certain medications are off-limits), they aren't likely to cause miscarriage.

During the 1918 flu pandemic, the influenza virus clearly played a role in miscarriages. It's thought that one in 10pregnant women had early miscarriages during that time, over and above what would be considered the expected incidence.

A century later, a review of 100 studies of influenza in pregnancy found that especially when pregnant women developed complications from influenza, they were at risk for miscarriage, stillbirth, and preterm birth.

Having afever during pregnancy(a temperature that's higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) is linked with an increased miscarriage risk. If you do catch the flu or COVID-19, your doctor may advise you to keep your fever controlled with Tylenol (acetaminophen) while you are sick.

(Video) Can cold and flu cause miscarriage?

Remember: Always ask your doctor before taking any over-the-counter pill while you're pregnant because many—like Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), Dayquil (acetaminophen, dextromethorphan, phenylephrine), Aleve (naproxen), Advil (ibuprofen), Motrin (ibuprofen), Bayer (aspirin), and Excedrin (aspirin, paracetamol, caffeine)—are not considered safe.

It's important to note that the flu does carry other concerns for people who are pregnant. During the 2009 H1N1 flu (swine flu) pandemic, for example, people who contracted the flu while pregnant had an increased risk of preterm delivery (having the baby before 37 weeks), infant death, and intensive care unit admissions.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), pregnant people with COVID-19 are also at higher risk of preterm delivery. While higher rates of pregnancy loss are suspected, there is no definitive data on miscarriage risk and COVID-19.

Flu Vaccine

The flu vaccination has been studied extensively and does not appear to pose any risk with regard to miscarriage. Both the CDC and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommend the flu vaccine for all pregnant people at any point in pregnancy.

The vaccine protects not only pregnant people but also their babies, who are born with some protection against flu viruses.

(Video) I'm pregnant and I had the flu. Can this cause birth defects?

COVID-19 Vaccine

Data collected by the CDC and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration regarding the COVID vaccine "did not identify any safety concerns for pregnant people who were vaccinated or for their babies."

Animal studies have also not revealed any adverse outcomes in pregnant animals or their offspring. Based on this evidence, the CDC recommends that pregnant people receive the COVID-19 vaccine to help protect against infection and possible severe illness.


A cold, the flu, and COVID-19 can all cause similar symptoms even though they're triggered by different viruses. Symptoms may include fever, fatigue, body aches, and dry cough.

With a cold, a person is more likely to have rhinorrhea (astuffy and runny nose). Furthermore, colds usually don't have the potential to lead to more serious problems that would result in hospitalization, such aspneumonia or more severe bacterial infections.

(Video) Reducing Risk of Birth Defects from Fever in Early Pregnancy | Duke Health

With the flu or COVID-19, symptoms may hit suddenly and are typically more severe than those of a cold.Based on your symptoms alone, your physician may have trouble distinguishing a cold from the flu or COVID-19 because they're so similar. However, tests can be done to distinguish among them and determine the appropriate treatment.

Risk Factors

Although anyone can catch a virus, viral infections are more common among the following populations:

  • People who are pregnant
  • Older people
  • Children
  • People with chronic medical conditions, such as asthma or heart disease


Fortunately, most people who get the flu recover after a few days. However, some people do develop pneumonia, a serious lung infection that can sometimes be deadly. Other respiratory infections can also result from the flu, including bronchitis and sinusitis.

The flu also can result in an ear infection (the middle ear is connected to the respiratory tract) and exacerbate other illnesses.

For example, the flu can make asthma worse and serve as a trigger for asthma attacks. Additionally, the flu can make heart failure worse.

(Video) Samantha's Flu and Pregnancy Story

The CDC has found that pregnant people with COVID-19 are at increased risk of severe illness. This may result in hospital admission requiring intensive care treatment and/or the use of a ventilator to help with breathing.


There are some key steps that you can take to lower your risk of contracting a viral infection. In addition to getting vaccinated, avoid close contact with people who are sick, wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds, avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth, and disinfect things that you touch a lot (like your phone, your computer, doorknobs and light switches, and so on).

Of course, general health habits like getting enough sleep, eating nutritious foods, being active, managing stress, and staying hydrated can all boost your immune system and help you fend off disease.


Can Catching a Cold or Flu During Pregnancy Cause Miscarriage? ›

Studies have shown that flu during pregnancy increases your risk of miscarriage, premature birth and low birth weight.

Can a cold or flu cause miscarriage? ›

Having a fever during pregnancy (a temperature that's higher than 100 degrees Fahrenheit) is linked with an increased miscarriage risk. 3 If you do catch the flu or COVID-19, your doctor may advise you to keep your fever controlled with Tylenol (acetaminophen) while you are sick.

Can having a cold while pregnant cause a miscarriage? ›

According to March of Dimes, catching a cold will not harm a developing fetus, and the pregnant person will typically recover in a week or so. People are also more likely to catch potentially more serious infections, such as the flu, during pregnancy.

Can a cold or flu harm my unborn baby? ›

If you are pregnant, it's important to take precautions against viral infections. A viral infection is a contagious illness. Most viruses will not hurt your baby. However, some viruses can cause miscarriage or birth defects.

What happens if I get the flu and I'm pregnant? ›

Women who become more ill with the flu will have mild symptoms at first. Pregnant women can become very sick very fast, even if the symptoms are not bad at first. Women who develop a high fever or pneumonia are at higher risk for early labor or delivery and other harm.

Will I miscarry if I have the flu? ›

Does having the flu increase the chance of miscarriage? Miscarriage can occur in any pregnancy. Some studies suggest a higher chance for pregnancy loss while other studies do not. Based on the available data, it is not known if the flu will increase the chance for miscarriage.

Can coughing from a cold cause miscarriage? ›

As a result of these changes, you may contract a cold or cough at some point during your pregnancy. In addition, your illness may last longer. The good news is that even though you probably feel fatigued, the symptoms of a cold or flu are not typically dangerous to your baby.

What happens if I get cold in early pregnancy? ›

If you catch a cold during pregnancy, it will not harm the fetus. However, it can be uncomfortable for you, and you may worry about what medications to use. A cold is a common mild viral infection that affects the throat, nose, upper airways, and sinuses.

Why are colds so bad when pregnant? ›

The immune system during pregnancy is very complex and changes to [give] immune responses to the fetus,” she explains. “While the specific changes are very complex, the end result is that minor infections may be more common.” They can last longer too—anywhere from five to 10 days, Flynn says.

Can getting sick while pregnant hurt the baby? ›

Getting Sick with the Flu While Pregnant Can Increase Birth Defects Risk. Women who become sick with the flu early in pregnancy are twice as likely to have a baby with a serious birth defect of the brain, spine, or heart than women who don't catch the virus.

What viruses cause miscarriage? ›

Viral and Bacterial Infections and Pregnancy Loss
  • Bacterial Vaginosis (BV) Bacterial vaginosis (BV) is the excess growth and imbalance of normal vaginal bacteria, including ureaplasma and mycoplasma. ...
  • Brucellosis. ...
  • Chickenpox (Varicella) ...
  • Chlamydia. ...
  • Cold and Flu. ...
  • COVID-19. ...
  • Cytomegalovirus. ...
  • Dengue Fever.
Mar 28, 2021

Can I take Emergen C while pregnant? ›

Emergen-C's primary ingredient is vitamin C (a whopping 1,000 mg), but also contains other antioxidants like manganese and zinc. There's also a smattering of B vitamins and electrolytes. Daniel Roshan, MD, a high-risk maternal-fetal OBGYN in New York City, says that Emergen-C is fine to take while pregnant.

Why is week 10 of pregnancy the worst? ›

Your nausea and vomiting may be worse than ever: Morning sickness peaks around 9 or 10 weeks of pregnancy for many women. That's when levels of the pregnancy hormone human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) are highest (morning sickness is thought to be linked to rises in hCG and estrogen).

Can I take mucinex while pregnant? ›

Mucinex, Mucinex D, Mucinex DM, and the extra-strength versions of each, because the six forms of Mucinex contain guaifenesin. Avoid taking any of these during the first trimester of pregnancy. However, they may be safe to use during later trimesters.

Is it common to get a cold during early pregnancy? ›

Pregnancy lowers your immunity, making you more prone to infection. It's not uncommon to experience cold- or flu-like symptoms early in pregnancy. A doctor can recommend pregnancy-safe treatment options.

What can trigger miscarriages? ›

Various factors increase the risk of miscarriage, including:
  • Age. Women older than age 35 have a higher risk of miscarriage than do younger women. ...
  • Previous miscarriages. ...
  • Chronic conditions. ...
  • Uterine or cervical problems. ...
  • Smoking, alcohol and illicit drugs. ...
  • Weight. ...
  • Invasive prenatal tests.
Oct 16, 2021

Can the flu in the first trimester cause birth defects? ›

We found that first-trimester maternal influenza was associated with increased odds of developing any type of birth defects (OR: 1.5, CI: 1.30–1.70). Moreover, newborns were more than twice as likely to be diagnosed with neural tube defects (OR: 2.48, CI: 1.95–3.14) or cleft lip and palate (OR: 2.48, CI: 1.87–3.28).


1. Can you have a miscarriage because of a cold - Can a cold harm my unborn baby
(yes OR no)
2. Can fever while pregnant harm baby? - Dr. Shefali Tyagi
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)
3. Will sneezing during 16 weeks pregnancy have harmful effect on baby? - Dr. Teena S Thomas
(Doctors' Circle World's Largest Health Platform)
4. Cold and Cough during Pregnancy || Safe Natural Home Remedy for cold and cough during pregnancy
(Health Tricks & Tips English)
5. Understanding Early Pregnancy Loss
(Access Health)
6. Can the flu cause miscarriage?
(FIND ANSWERS. with Sebastian Campbell)
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Tuan Roob DDS

Last Updated: 27/07/2023

Views: 5309

Rating: 4.1 / 5 (42 voted)

Reviews: 89% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Tuan Roob DDS

Birthday: 1999-11-20

Address: Suite 592 642 Pfannerstill Island, South Keila, LA 74970-3076

Phone: +9617721773649

Job: Marketing Producer

Hobby: Skydiving, Flag Football, Knitting, Running, Lego building, Hunting, Juggling

Introduction: My name is Tuan Roob DDS, I am a friendly, good, energetic, faithful, fantastic, gentle, enchanting person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.