Date: September 2022, Version 3

Quick read

Atropine use may occasionally be advised in pregnancy and is unlikely to harm the baby.

What is it?

Atropine is used to increase a dangerously slow heart rate. Atropine is also used as an antidote to reverse the effects of certain poisons and can prevent life-threatening toxic effects. It is sometimes used in eye drop form to treat inflammation of parts of the eye, and during eye examinations to dilate (widen) the pupils. Atropine can also reduce excess saliva and is occasionally used to treat some bowel disorders.


What are the benefits of taking atropine in pregnancy?

Atropine use may be advised for some potentially serious conditions, for example, if the heart is beating too slowly, or to reverse the effects of a poison. In these cases, the benefits to both woman and baby of ensuring the woman remains well are likely to outweigh any possible risks.

An eye examination using atropine eye drops may be required to prevent complications that could damage the sight. When atropine is used in this way, only a tiny amount will reach the baby.


Are there any risks of taking atropine during pregnancy?

There are no concerns that atropine causes birth defects in the baby. Other possible effects have not been well-studied.


Are there any alternatives to taking atropine?

Possibly. There may be other medications that can be used depending on the specific circumstances. When a particular medicine is being offered, a doctor will be able to explain why it is the best choice.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to take atropine during pregnancy?

Atropine will only be offered in pregnancy if the benefits of use outweigh the possible risks. A doctor or specialist will be happy to discuss this.

Will I or my baby need extra monitoring during pregnancy?

All pregnant women in the UK will be offered a very detailed scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of their routine antenatal care. Using atropine in pregnancy is not expected to cause problems that would require any extra monitoring of the baby prior to birth.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father takes atropine?

We would not expect any increased risk to the baby if the father took atropine around the time of conception.

Who can I talk to if I have questions?

If you have any questions regarding the information in this leaflet please discuss them with your health care provider. They can access more detailed medical and scientific information from

How can I help to improve drug safety information for pregnant women in the future?

Our online reporting system (MyBump Portal) allows women who are currently pregnant to create a secure record of their pregnancy, collected through a series of questionnaires. You will be asked to enter information about your health, whether or not you take any medicines, your pregnancy outcome and your child's development. You can update your details at any time during pregnancy or afterwards. This information will help us better understand how medicines affect the health of pregnant women and their babies. Please visit the MyBump Portal to register.

General information
Sadly, miscarriage and birth defects can occur in any pregnancy.

Miscarriage occurs in about 1 in every 5 pregnancies, and 1 in every 40 babies are born with a birth defect. This is called the ‘background risk’ and happens whether medication is taken or not.

Most medicines cross the placenta and reach the baby. For many medications this is not a problem. However, some medicines can affect a baby’s growth and development.

If you take regular medication and are planning to conceive, you should discuss whether your medicine is safe to continue with your doctor/health care team before becoming pregnant. If you have an unplanned pregnancy while taking a medicine, you should tell your doctor as soon as possible.

If a new medicine is suggested for you during pregnancy, please make sure that the person prescribing it knows that you are pregnant. If you have any concerns about a medicine, you can check with your doctor, midwife or pharmacist.

Our Bumps information leaflets provide information about the effects of medicines in pregnancy so that you can decide, together with your healthcare provider, what is best for you and your baby.