Tylenol During Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

by on May 3, 2012


Tylenol that has been prepared for self-administration by the patient has not formally been assigned to any pregnancy category by the Food and Drug Administration, but Tylenol for intravenous administration has been assigned to the pregnancy category C.  Acetaminophen, the active ingredient in Tylenol, belongs to Category B and is generally considered safe for pregnant women when used in moderation at the lowest dose possible that effectively treats symptoms; studies have shown that Tylenol does not cause any increased incidence of congenital defects or neonatal illness.

Tylenol (Acetaminophen) is excreted into breast milk at very low concentrations and has not been proven to cause any adverse effects on nursing infants during clinical studies.

Is it safe to use Tylenol during pregnancy?

Acetaminophen has been assigned to pregnancy category B by the Food and Drug Administration. This means that experiments on animals have not proven a fetus risk but still there are not adequate and well-controlled studies in pregnant women.

The manufacturers of the over-the-counter drug recommend asking a doctor before using Tylenol during pregnancy.

In general, it is better to avoid taking any medications especially during the first trimester of pregnancy as this is the time when the organs of the fetus are being formed. The fetus is most sensitive to the action of medicines and toxins in this period. Occasional use of Tylenol in low doses during pregnancy is not likely to cause any problems. Acetaminophen is considered safer than aspirin and other NSAIDs as it is not connected with premature closing of ductus arteriosus of the fetus. However, some studies show that it closes ductus arteriosus in prematurely born infants.

Cases of acetaminophen overdosing have been reported during pregnancy. It is very important to use Tylenol (acetaminophen) as directed by your doctor and never exceed the prescribed dose as overdosing can be very dangerous in pregnant women. According to one study conducted in the UK, overdosing is not connected with a higher risk of malformations but still it poses risk for the life of the mother and the fetus. Have in mind that a lot of OTC medicines contain acetaminophen or paracetamol as it is known in some countries.

Is it safe to use Tylenol during breastfeeding?

Acetaminophen is excreted in small quantity in breast milk. However, adverse effects are rare.  The manufacturers recommend consulting a doctor before using Tylenol if you are breastfeeding.

There are studies linking the use of acetaminophen with the development of asthma later in life and reproduction problems. Still there is not enough data on these issues.

Precautions To Take During Pregnancy

Have in mind that a lot of the Tylenol products contain other drugs beside acetaminophen such as dextromethorphan HBr, guaifenesin, phenylephrine HCl, chlorpheniramine maleate, doxylamine succinate.

Most of them have been assigned to pregnancy category C by the Food and Drug Administration which means that they are not safe during pregnancy and should be used only in the case of emergency when no safer alternative is available and under strict medical control.

Always check the active ingredients of the medicines that you are taking. Consult a doctor before using any Tylenol products if you are pregnant or breastfeeding.