Saxitoxins are a group of natural neurotoxic alkaloid compounds typically produced in marine organisms such as dinoflagellates that bioaccumulate in filter feeding molluscs. Saxitoxins bind to the sodium channels in nerve cells leading to disruption of neurological processes resulting in paralytic shellfish poisoning. Saxitoxin may also be synthesised and used as a biological research agent.
Owing to the potential severity of saxitoxin exposure, treatment during pregnancy should be the same as for the non-pregnant patient. Maternal toxicity leading to subsequent fetal anoxia is likely to be a major determinant of risk to the fetus after maternal saxitoxin exposure.
Due to a lack of data following exposure in human pregnancy, it is not currently possible to offer an evidence-based assessment of the risk maternal saxitoxin exposure poses to a developing fetus. Where exposure to saxitoxin has occurred, even in cases which did not result in maternal toxicity, enhanced fetal monitoring may be warranted. Discussion with UKTIS is recommended in 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.