Acetaminophen poisoning in late pregnancy. A case report

J Reprod Med. 1997 Jun;42(6):367-71.


Background: Acetaminophen poisoning is a major cause of hospital admission and has been extensively reviewed. Its occurrence in pregnant women has been reported seldom, and the prognosis has been good except for one case, in which the fetus died. We report on a case of acetaminophen poisoning that resulted in the death of both the mother and the infant.

Case: A 38-year-old woman whose pregnancy was at 31 weeks' gestational age was evaluated for treatment of an acetaminophen overdose. She was admitted more than 26 hours after taking 35 g of acetaminophen. An emergency cesarean section was performed one hour after admission because of acute fetal distress. A grossly normal, 1,620-g, female infant was delivered and had Apgar scores at 1, 5 and 10 minutes of 0, 0 and 1, respectively, despite the initiation of resuscitation immediately following delivery. Acidosis was noted in the mother during the operation; it was followed by acute hepatorenal failure 16 hours after admission. That resulted in the mother's death 40 hours after admission. The infant also died 34 hours after delivery.

Conclusion: Delays in administering the antidote treatment, N-acetylcysteine, after acetaminophen intoxication significantly increase the risk of mortality in both the mother and infant. The development of acidosis carries a poor prognosis in such patients and may necessitate liver transplantation to save the life of the mother.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / poisoning*
  • Acetylcysteine / administration & dosage
  • Adult
  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic / poisoning*
  • Blood Gas Analysis
  • Fatal Outcome
  • Female
  • Fetal Death
  • Fetal Distress / chemically induced*
  • Free Radical Scavengers / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy Complications / blood
  • Pregnancy Complications / chemically induced*
  • Suicide*


  • Analgesics, Non-Narcotic
  • Free Radical Scavengers
  • Acetaminophen
  • Acetylcysteine