USE OF SODIUM HYPOCHLORITE (BLEACH) IN PREGNANCY
Date of issue: September 2022, Version: 4
Household bleach usually contains ≤6% sodium hypochlorite. Industrial strength bleach (>6% sodium hypochlorite) is used as a disinfectant and bleaching agent in the chemical, paper, textile, water treatment and dairy industries.
No published data on the possible adverse effects of household or industrial strength bleach on human reproductive function or in human pregnancy have been found. Environmental exposure to water chlorination by-products has been associated with preterm delivery and reduced fetal growth; however, data are inconclusive and their relevance to exposure to household bleach is uncertain.
As with all chemicals, unnecessary exposure should be avoided. Where exposure is unavoidable, precautions should be taken to ensure that the area is well-ventilated and that no symptoms suggestive of toxicity occur.
Use of household bleach as directed by the manufacturer at any stage in pregnancy is unlikely to pose a risk and would not usually be regarded as medical grounds for termination of pregnancy or any additional fetal monitoring. 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.
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.