Corrosives encompass a diverse group of compounds that cause injury to living tissue via chemical reactions at the site of contact.
There are limited data regarding exposure to acids and alkalis during pregnancy, therefore it is not possible to provide an evidence-based risk assessment. Most acids and alkalis mediate their effects locally, therefore absorption and systemic toxicity are not generally encountered. As such, exposure to acids and alkalis during pregnancy is unlikely to have a direct effect on the developing fetus. However, symptoms associated with maternal injury may have adverse fetal effects.
Certain corrosive compounds may, however, cause specific effects associated with substantial systemic toxicity and in cases of exposure to these, the corresponding TOXBASE and UKTIS monographs for that agent should be consulted, if available. This monograph discusses the non-specific corrosive effects of exposure to acids and alkalis during pregnancy.
As with all chemicals, unnecessary exposure to acids and alkalis should be avoided during pregnancy. Asymptomatic exposure to acids and alkalis at any stage in pregnancy would not usually be regarded as medical grounds for termination of pregnancy. However, other risk factors may be present in individual cases which may independently increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcome. Clinicians are reminded of the importance of consideration of such factors when performing case specific risk assessments. Discussion with UKTIS is recommended in such cases.
In cases of symptomatic maternal exposure to acids and alkalis in pregnancy, enhanced fetal monitoring may be required. The severity of the systemic symptoms observed as a result of exposure is likely to be a major determinant of fetal effects. It is therefore important to treat the mother appropriately to reduce the risks of maternal, and as a consequence, fetal toxicity. If a specific treatment is required, it should not be withheld on account of pregnancy. Where a number of treatment options exist, UKTIS should be contacted for advice regarding the use of antibiotics, analgesia and diagnostic techniques for use in pregnant patients.
This is a summary of the full UKTIS monograph for health care professionals and should not be used in isolation. The full UKTIS monograph and access to any hyperlinked related documents is available to NHS health care professionals who are logged in.
If you have a patient with exposure to a drug or chemical and require assistance in making a patient-specific risk assessment, please telephone UKTIS on 0344 892 0909 to discuss the case with a teratology specialist.
If you would like to report a pregnancy to UKTIS please click here to download our pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.