A study of the potential teratogenic effects of large doses of drugs rarely used for a suicide attempt during pregnancy

G. Timmermann, N. Ács, F. Bánhidy, Ae Czeizel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

4 Citations (Scopus)


The available data set regarding pregnant women who attempted suicide during pregnancy was evaluated to estimate the teratogenic effect of very large doses of drugs based on the rate and distribution of congenital abnormalities of exposed children. These pregnant women were identified from patients of central toxicological inpatients clinic, Budapest, Hungary, 1960–1993. Of 1044 women with self-poisoning during pregnancy, 411 delivered live-born babies; 367 of these children were examined in this study. Data for 12 frequently used (10 or more times) drugs were published previously; this paper presents 77 medicines (58 drugs and 19 medicinal products including multiple components) that were rarely used for a suicide attempt by 197 pregnant women. Although 23 (11.7%) exposed children had congenital abnormalities (CAs), in general, a causal relationship of the CA and the drug taken by the pregnant woman cannot be assumed. This is because the suicide attempt often did not occur during a critical period for producing the CA. Of 67 pregnant women who attempted suicide between the 3rd and 12th postconceptional week, that is, the critical period of most major CAs, 7 (10.5%) children were affected with CAs. This high rate of CAs in exposed children can be explained by the intensive medical examinations, including diagnosis of mild CAs and minor anomalies, or the low socioeconomic status and hazardous lifestyle of mothers. None of the rarely used drugs was identified as a potential human teratogen. Experience of the authors shows the feasibility and benefits of using the self-poisoning model in estimating human teratogenic/fetotoxic risks of exposure to drugs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)121-131
Number of pages11
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2008


  • congenital abnormalities
  • different drugs
  • suicide attempt during pregnancy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Toxicology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'A study of the potential teratogenic effects of large doses of drugs rarely used for a suicide attempt during pregnancy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this