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(Date of issue: February 2018, Version: 1.1)

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.


Glutaraldehyde is a water-soluble, colourless, organic liquid used as a fixative/preservative for biological specimens and as a biochemical reagent. It may also be used in the sterilisation of equipment and as a topical treatment for warts. Toxicity of glutaraldehyde is likely to depend on the concentration and route of exposure.

The two studies which have investigated the fetal effects of glutaraldehyde exposure in human pregnancy both used data from an overlapping data source in which exposure was assumed from occupation. These studies found no increased risk of congenital malformation or spontaneous abortion, however they are considered highly limited due to the small number of glutaraldehyde-exposed women included and, as such, further studies are required before reassurance can be offered.

As with all chemicals, unnecessary exposure to glutaraldehyde should be avoided. Where occupational exposure is unavoidable, precautions should be taken to ensure that exposure is well within the recommended exposure limits and not associated with toxic symptoms. Topical treatment of warts is not expected to be associated with systemic absorption and hence fetal exposure following topical application would be considered minimal. An increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcome following topical exposure to treat maternal warts would therefore not be expected, however it should be noted there are no pharmacokinetic data describing systemic absorption or pregnancy outcome data currently available following topical glutaraldehyde exposure.

There are currently no published guidelines concerning the management of glutaraldehyde poisoning during pregnancy. Maternal toxicity as a result of acute exposure in pregnancy is likely to be a major determinant of the risk posed to the developing fetus. Pregnant women should therefore be managed as for the non-pregnant patient. Should a specific treatment be required it should not be withheld on account of pregnancy. For current guidelines on the management of glutaraldehyde poisoning readers are advised to consult TOXBASE® or contact UKTIS.

Due to limitations in the available data, it is not currently possible to state that an absence of maternal toxicity is not associated with an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcome. Additionally, other risk factors may be present in individual cases which independently increase these risks and clinicians are reminded of the importance of consideration of such factors when performing case-specific risk assessments. Enhanced antenatal surveillance may be warranted after exposure to glutaraldehyde resulting in maternal toxicity. The requirement for this should be decided on a case-by-case basis. Discussion with UKTIS is recommended in all cases of glutaraldehyde exposure at any stage of pregnancy.

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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.