Acetaminophen / aspirin / caffeine Pregnancy and Breastfeeding Warnings
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Medically reviewed on January 9, 2018
Acetaminophen / aspirin / caffeine Pregnancy Warnings
Two cases of acetaminophen overdose in late pregnancy have been reported. In both cases neither the neonate nor the mother suffered hepatic toxicity.
Investigations have revealed conflicting results with regards to the pharmacokinetic disposition of acetaminophen in pregnant women. One study has suggested that the oral clearance of acetaminophen is 58% higher and the elimination half-life is 28% longer in pregnant women compared to nonpregnant women. Another study has suggested that the elimination half-life is not different in patients who are pregnant. That study also suggested that the volume of distribution of acetaminophen may be higher in pregnant women.
One study has suggested that acetaminophen in typical oral doses may result in a reduced production of prostacyclin in pregnant women. That study also suggested that acetaminophen does not affect thromboxane production.
The frequency of fetal exposure to aspirin reported in many studies may be underestimated because aspirin (and other salicylates) occur in many over-the-counter preparations and women may fail to recall taking aspirin and over-the-counter drugs.
Increased maternal bleeding can occur during delivery when aspirin is used 1 week prior to and/or during labor and delivery. Prolonged gestation and labor have been reported due to aspirin's inhibition of prostaglandin.
A study of the use of low-dose aspirin (60 mg per day) to prevent and treat preeclampsia in 9364 pregnant women (the Collaborative Low-dose Aspirin Study in Pregnancy--CLASP) did "not support routine prophylactic or therapeutic administration of antiplatelet therapy in pregnancy to all women at increased risk of preeclampsia or IUGR." In that study, no excess of intraventricular hemorrhage, neonatal bleeds, or mortality attributable to bleeding were observed. The investigators did identify a possible role for low-dose aspirin in the treatment of early-onset preeclampsia severe enough to need very preterm delivery.
Another study of low-dose aspirin (follow-up from the Italian Study of Aspirin in Pregnancy) has suggested that "low dose aspirin in pregnancy is safe with respect to the risks of malformation and of major impairment in development at 18 months of age."
High-dose aspirin (2 g per day) has been associated with stillbirths, cerebral hemorrhage, oculoauriculovertebral dysplasia, neonatal salicylate toxicity, constricted ductus arteriosus, cyclopia, and neonatal acidosis. Some cases of congenital heart defects have been reported. However, a case control study of aspirin use in the first trimester concluded that aspirin "does not increase the risk of congenital heart defects in relation to that of other structural malformations."
In a study of 2817 fertile women, no evidence of adverse effects from caffeine was found. The fecundability ratio (adjusted for known risk factors for time to conceive) was 1.03 between fertile women who consumed more than 7000 mg caffeine per month and those who consumed 500 mg or less per month. Furthermore, caffeine was not associated with infertility in 1818 infertile women and their primiparous controls. In another study (n=441) no evidence was found that moderate caffeine use increased the risk of spontaneous abortion, intrauterine growth retardation, or microcephaly.
Aspirin has been assigned to pregnancy category C by the FDA. However, aspirin is considered to be in pregnancy category D by the FDA if full dose aspirin is taken in the third trimester. Use of nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs during the third trimester of pregnancy should be avoided due to effects on the fetal cardiovascular system (closure of the ductus arteriosus). Aspirin use in pregnancy has been associated with alterations in both maternal and fetal hemostasis. In addition, high doses have been associated with increased perinatal mortality, intrauterine growth retardation, and teratogenic effects.
Acetaminophen has not been formally assigned to pregnancy category by the FDA. It is routinely used for short-term pain relief and fever in all stages of pregnancy. Acetaminophen is believed to be safe in pregnancy when used intermittently for short durations.
Caffeine has been assigned to pregnancy category B by the FDA. Both human and animal studies have failed to reveal evidence of significant mutagenic or carcinogenic effects. Caffeine crosses the placenta. Fetal blood and tissue levels in the fetus are similar to those in the mother. Caffeine has been reported to be an animal teratogen only with doses high enough to cause toxicity in the mother. In 1980, the Food and Drug Administration issued an advisory (based primarily on animal evidence) which stated that pregnant women should limit there intake of caffeine to a minimum. During the first two trimesters of pregnancy, the combination of acetaminophen, aspirin, and caffeine should only be given during pregnancy when clearly needed and when benefit outweighs risk. Because of the aspirin component of this combination drug, during the last trimester of pregnancy, this combination product is only recommended for use when there are no alternatives and benefits outweigh risk.
Acetaminophen / aspirin / caffeine Breastfeeding Warnings
One small study has reported that following a 1000 mg dose of acetaminophen to nursing mothers, nursing infants receive less than 1.85% of the weight-adjusted maternal oral dose.
Aspirin is excreted into human milk in small amounts. Peak milk salicylate levels have been reported at nine hours after maternal dosing (and measured at 1.1 mg/dL). Use of large doses of aspirin can result in rashes, platelet abnormalities, and bleeding in nursing infants. Because of a single case report of metabolic acidosis, the American Academy of Pediatrics characterizes aspirin as a drug that has been "associated with significant effects on some nursing infants and should be given to nursing mothers with caution."
Acetaminophen is excreted into human milk in small concentrations. One case of a rash has been reported in a nursing infant. Acetaminophen is considered compatible with breast-feeding by the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Caffeine is excreted into human milk in small amounts. Adverse effects in the nursing infant are unlikely. However, irritability and poor sleep patterns have been reported in nursing infants. The amount of caffeine generally found in caffeinated beverages is considered to usually be compatible with breast-feeding by the American Academy of Pediatrics. Because caffeine is excreted into human milk and because caffeine is metabolized slowly by nursing infants, consumption of more than moderate levels of caffeine by nursing mothers is not recommended.
References for pregnancy information
- Galinsky RE, Levy G "Absorption and metabolism of acetaminophen shortly before parturition." Drug Intell Clin Pharm 18 (1984): 977-9
- Levy G, Garrettson LK, Soda DM "Evidence of placental transfer of acetaminophen." Pediatrics 55 (1975): 895
- Joesoef MR, Beral V, Rolfs RT, Aral SO, Cramer DW "Are caffeinated beverages risk factors for delayed conception? [see comments." Lancet 335 (1990): 136-7
- "Product Information. Bayer aspirin (aspirin)." Bayer, West Haven, CT.
- Parazzini F, Bortolus R, Chatenoud L, Restelli S, Benedetto C "Follow-up of children in the italian study of aspirin in pregnancy." Lancet 343 (1994): 1235
- Rudolph AM "Effects of aspirin and acetaminophen in pregnancy and in the newborn." Arch Intern Med 141 (1981): 358-63
- Beaulac-Baillargeon L, Rocheleau S "Paracetamol pharmacokinetics during the first trimester of human pregnancy." Eur J Clin Pharmacol 46 (1994): 451-4
- Briggs GG, Freeman RK, Yaffe SJ.. "Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation. 5th ed." Baltimore, MD: Williams & Wilkins (1998):
- Roberts I, Robinson MJ, Mughal MZ, Ratcliffe JG, Prescott LF "Paracetamol metabolites in the neonate following maternal overdose." Br J Clin Pharmacol 18 (1984): 201-6
- Rayburn W, Shukla U, Stetson P, Piehl E "Acetaminophen pharmacokinetics: comparison between pregnant and nonpregnant women." Am J Obstet Gynecol 155 (1986): 1353-6
- Byer AJ, Traylor TR, Semmer JR "Acetaminophen overdose in the third trimester of pregnancy." JAMA 247 (1982): 3114-5
- Karlowicz MG, White LE "Severe intracranial hemorrhage in a term neonate associated with maternal acetylsalicylic acid ingestion." Clin Pediatr (Phila) 32 (1993): 740-3
- "Clasp: a randomised trial lf low-dose aspirin for the prevention and treatment of pre-eclampsia among 9364 pregnant women." Lancet 343 (1994): 619-29
- Eskenazi B "Caffeine during pregnancy: grounds for concern? [editorial; comment]." JAMA 270 (1993): 2973-4
- Schoenfeld A, Bar Y, Merlob P, Ovadia Y "NSAIDs: maternal and fetal considerations." Am J Reprod Immunol 28 (1992): 141-7
- Mills JL, Holmes LB, Aarons JH, Simpson JL, Brown ZA, Jovanovic-Peterson LG, Conley MR, Graubard BI, Knopp RH, Metzger BE "Moderate caffeine use and the risk of spontaneous abortion and intrauterine growth retardation [see comments." JAMA 269 (1993): 593-7
- O'Brien WF, Krammer J, O'Leary TD, Mastrogiannis DS "The effect of acetaminophen on prostacyclin production in pregnant women." Am J Obstet Gynecol 168 (1993): 1164-9
- Miners JO, Robson RA, Birkett DJ "Paracetamol metabolism in pregnancy." Br J Clin Pharmacol 22 (1986): 359-62
References for breastfeeding information
- Matheson I, Lunde PK, Notarianni L "Infant rash caused by paracetamol in breast milk." Pediatrics 76 (1985): 651-2
- Committee on Drugs, 1992 to 1993 "The transfer of drugs and other chemicals into human milk." Pediatrics 93 (1994): 137-50
- Rose JE, Behm FM "Psychophysiological interactions between caffeine and nicotine." Pharmacol Biochem Behav 38 (1991): 333-7
- Berlin CM Jr, Denson HM, Daniel CH, Ward RM "Disposition of dietary caffeine in milk, saliva, and plasma of lactating women." Pediatrics 73 (1984): 59-63
- Erickson SH, Oppenheim GL "Aspirin in breast milk." J Fam Pract 8 (1979): 189-90
- Roberts RJ, Blumer JL, Gorman RL, et al "American Academy of Pediatrics Committee on Drugs: Transfer of drugs and other chemicals into human milk." Pediatrics 84 (1989): 924-36
- "Product Information. Bayer aspirin (aspirin)." Bayer, West Haven, CT.
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