Paracetamol Toxicity during Pregnancy

Author: Fiona Mendes / Editor: Yasmin Sultan / Reviewer: Caitriona Considine, Fiona Mendes / Codes: / Published: 31/01/2024

A 24-week pregnant female with lower back pain has been taking regular paracetamol, which alleviates the pain. Her pregnancy has been otherwise uneventful. She has no other medical conditions.

She develops a cold with a dry cough, mild headache, generalised muscle aches and coryzal symptoms and so starts drinking a “Cold & Flu instant relief hot drink” throughout the day. The box of powdered sachets is labelled with: “just add hot water” and “contains the active safe ingredient acetaminophen”, which she had purchased abroad whilst on a ski trip last year and had felt it worked well previously when she had a cold.

Later that evening she feels much more tired than usual and has nausea and abdominal discomfort. She presents to your Emergency Department (ED), with her antenatal care folder.

After being assessed, she is started on treatment for therapeutic paracetamol excess.

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