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Date of issue: June 2018
Version: 1.2

This is a UKTIS monograph for use by health care professionals. For case-specific advice please contact UKTIS on 0344 892 0909. To report an exposure please download and complete a pregnancy reporting form. Please encourage all women to complete an online reporting form.


Brevetoxins are cyclic polyether neurotoxic compounds produced in marine organisms such as the dinoflagellate Karenia brevis that bioaccumulate in filter feeding molluscs.  Brevetoxins bind to the sodium channels in nerve cells leading to disruption of neurological processes resulting in neurotoxic shellfish poisoning.  Aerosolisaton of brevetoxin is also possible during algal blooms, when the action of waves and the wind may break open the dinoflagellate releasing the toxin.

Owing to the potential severity of brevetoxin exposure, treatment during pregnancy should be the same as for the non-pregnant patient.  Maternal toxicity is likely to be a major determinant of risk to the fetus after maternal brevetoxin exposure.

Due to a lack of data following exposure in human pregnancy, it is not currently possible to offer an evidence-based assessment of the risk that maternal brevetoxin exposure poses to a developing fetus.  Where exposure to brevetoxin has occurred, even in cases which did not result in maternal toxicity, enhanced fetal monitoring may be warranted.  Discussion with UKTIS is recommended in all cases.
This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use full UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from to be sure you are using the most up-to-date version. The summaries of these monographs are openly available on

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 health care professionals at

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.

Disclaimer: Every effort has been made to ensure that this monograph was accurate and up-to-date at the time of writing, however it cannot cover every eventuality and the information providers cannot be held responsible for any adverse outcomes of the measures recommended. The final decision regarding which treatment is used for an individual patient remains the clinical responsibility of the prescriber. This material may be freely reproduced for education and not for profit purposes within the UK National Health Service, however no linking to this website or reproduction by or for commercial organisations is permitted without the express written permission of this service. This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from or to ensure you are using the most up-to-date version.