A study of the teratogenic and fetotoxic effects of large doses of amobarbital used for a suicide attempt by 14 pregnant women

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

Research output: Article

6 Citations (Scopus)


The teratogenic effect of barbitals is debated, and this study was performed to identify the effects of very large doses of amobarbital used for suicide attempts during pregnancy on embryo–fetal development. Self-poisoned pregnant women were identified from patients of the Department of Toxicology Internal Medicine, Korányi Hospital, Budapest, Hungary, who were admitted from the 3 million people of Budapest and its surrounding region. A comparison was made between outcomes of pregnancies of women who attempted suicide with amobarbital alone or in combination with other drugs during pregnancy with sib controls. Of 1044 women with self-poisoning during pregnancy between 1960 and 1993, 33 used amobarbital for a suicide attempt. Of these 33 women, 14 delivered live-born babies. The dose of amobarbital taken by these women ranged between 600 and 10,000 mg, with a mean of 3886 mg. Of the 14 amobarbital-exposed children, 9 had mothers who attempted suicide between the 3rd and 12th post-conceptional weeks. None of these children had a congenital abnormality, and there was no evidence of fetal growth retardation. The distribution of cognitive status and behavioral scale of the exposed children were comparable with those of their sibs although one exposed child had a very low (about 75) IQ, whereas another one was treated because of a very severe aggressive behavioral deviation. Exposure to very large doses of amobarbital that were used for self-poisoning during pregnancy did not produce teratogenic effects in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)79-85
Number of pages7
JournalToxicology and Industrial Health
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - febr. 2008


ASJC Scopus subject areas

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

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