Esmolol is a cardioselective beta blocker used in the short-term treatment of supraventricular arrhythmias, tachycardia, and hypertension in the perioperative period.
There are no studies of rates of specific pregnancy outcomes following gestational exposure to esmolol. An evidence-based assessment of the potential risks of congenital malformation, miscarriage, stillbirth, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR), preterm delivery and adverse neurodevelopmental effects following in utero exposure is therefore not possible.
Studies of beta blockers as a class do not show that use during pregnancy is associated with fetal structural malformation. Use of beta blockers in pregnancy has been associated with adverse effects on fetal growth, although because maternal hypertension is linked to intrauterine growth restriction, the relative contribution of beta blocker exposure to this outcome remains unquantified. Overall, data do not suggest that gestational beta blocker exposure increases the risk of preterm delivery. Data on rates of miscarriage, stillbirth and neurodevelopmental outcomes are too limited to permit a risk assessment.
Use of beta blockers near term may result in neonatal beta-adrenoceptor blockade, leading to neonatal bradycardia, hypotension and hypoglycaemia. Respiratory distress has also been reported. Assessment of the neonate for these effects is advised.
Exposure to esmolol at any stage in pregnancy would not be regarded as medical grounds for termination of pregnancy. Additional fetal monitoring is generally indicated in pregnancies complicated by maternal cardiac disease, regardless of pharmacotherapy. Additional growth scans should be offered following gestational exposure to beta blockers. 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.
Related document: Use of beta blockers in pregnancy
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.
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