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(Date of issue: April 2016, Version: 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.

A corresponding patient information leaflet on exposure to paint in pregnancy is available at www.medicinesinpregnancy.org.


Household paints encompass a number of different products typically grouped as emulsion (water-based) and gloss (hydrocarbon solvent-based) paints. Chemical content will vary depending on the type of paint. Household paint produced prior to the 1970s may also contain lead.

There are limited data regarding the risk to the fetus of exposure to paint during pregnancy. Two studies found no overall increased risk of congenital malformation, however one study, although potentially confounded, found an increased risk of renal malformations specifically. No increased risk of spontaneous abortion, low birth weight, preterm delivery or cancer in the offspring has been found, although data for all outcomes are still too limited to exclude a risk.

As with all chemicals, unnecessary exposure should be avoided. Where exposure is unavoidable, precautions should be taken to ensure that the area is well-ventilated and that no symptoms suggestive of toxicity occur.

’Normal’ use of paint at any stage in pregnancy would not usually be regarded as medical grounds for termination of pregnancy or any additional fetal monitoring. However, other risk factors may be present in individual cases which may independently increase the risk of adverse pregnancy outcome. Clinicians are reminded of the importance of consideration of such factors when performing case-specific risk assessments. If exposure is associated with maternal toxicity, assessment and treatment as for the non-pregnant patient is advised.                    

This document is regularly reviewed and updated. Only use full UKTIS monographs downloaded directly from TOXBASE.org to be sure you are using the most up-to-date version. The summaries of these monographs are openly available on UKTIS.org.

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 www.toxbase.org.

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 TOXBASE.org or UKTIS.org to ensure you are using the most up-to-date version.