Paracetamol During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on May 3, 2012


Acetaminophen in all of its forms is generally considered safe during pregnancy and while breastfeeding as long as it is used exactly as prescribed and for very short durations. Pregnant or nursing mothers who require long-term pain management should speak with their physicians in order to determine the safest course of action during pregnancy and lactation. Like all medications, Panadol should only be used in pregnancy when the benefit of the medication outweighs the risks to the fetus.

Can Pregnant Women Take Paracetamol?

Yes, pregnant women can safely use paracetamol. In fact, it is considered as one of the safest fever reducer/pain reliever for pregnant women. The FDA has assigned paracetamol Pregnancy Category B which means that it may be safe for use during pregnancy.

Although it appears that paracetamol crosses the human placenta, studies show that fetal exposure does not increase the risk of birth defects, miscarriages and other problems.

In three separate studies involving more than 10,000 newborns exposed to paracetamol during the first three months of pregnancy, no major malformations were noted.

Although most findings are reassuring, a retrospective study on cough/cold/pain relievers has linked use of these drugs with gastroschisis (a rare abdominal wall defect characterized by a hole in the anterior abdomen) and small intestinal atresia (narrowing or absence of a part of the small intestine). The risk is more pronounced among newborns who had been exposed to combination drugs containing paracetamol and pseudoephedrine. In addition, continuous high daily dosage of paracetmol has been linked to fatal kidney disease in the infant and severe maternal anemia.

As with any other medications, taking more than the recommended dose can lead to problems such as liver damage and fetal death. Discuss with your healthcare provider the safe dose of paracetamol for you. It is also important that you follow your healthcare provider’s recommendations. In general, users should not take more than 4000 mg of paracetamol within any 24-hour period. This includes all paracetamol from other medications, such as cough-and-cold drugs, pain relievers, and allergy products.

For pregnant women who have liver impairment, paracetamol may not be the drug of choice. Be sure to discuss with your healthcare provider paracetamol use before taking it.

Can Breastfeeding Women Take Paracetamol?

Although paracetamol is excreted into the breast milk, the amount found in human milk is negligible enough to cause any problems on lactation and the breastfed child. The manufacturer recommends that lactating women consult their healthcare providers before taking this drug. However, many healthcare providers consider this drug to be safe during breastfeeding. Take note that not all patients experience the same condition. Some breastfeeding women may have underlying medical conditions contraindicated for paracetamol.

The American Academy of Pediatrics classifies paracetamol as a drug that is “Usually Compatible with Breastfeeding.”