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Date of issue: January 2023, Version: 2.0

Phosphine is an extremely toxic, colourless gas, odourless when pure, with an odour of garlic or decaying fish when impure.  The most common uses for phosphine are as an insecticide or rodenticide.  It is also used as a dopant in the semiconductor industry.  Phosphine gas may also be released as a by-product of illicit methamfetamine production.

The only published data relating to phosphine exposure in pregnancy are provided by a small retrospective case-control study which did not identify an association with miscarriage risk. No further data concerning phosphine exposure in pregnancy are currently available.  As a result, a full assessment of the risk exposure in pregnancy poses to the developing fetus is not possible.

One report shows a slightly increased risk of central nervous system or neurobehavioral defects in the children of fathers exposed to phosphine.

Following phosphine exposure in a pregnant patient, maternal toxicity is likely to be a major determinant of risk to the fetus.  There are no specific guidelines regarding the treatment of phosphine poisoning during pregnancy.  Management of the pregnant patient should be the same as for the non-pregnant patient.

Where exposure to phosphine has occurred, even in cases which did not result in maternal toxicity, enhanced fetal monitoring may be warranted.  Discussion with UKTIS is recommended for all cases.

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.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this monograph was accurate and up-to-date at the time of writing, however it cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes of the measures recommended. The final decision regarding which treatment is used for an individual patient remains the clinical responsibility of the prescriber. This material may be freely reproduced for education and not for profit purposes within the UK National Health Service, however no linking to this website or reproduction by or for commercial organisations is permitted without the express written permission of this service. This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from to ensure you are using the most up-to-date version.