Date: September 2020, Version 3

What is it?

Disulfiram is a medicine that, when taken with alcohol, causes extremely unpleasant effects. It is therefore prescribed to people who are trying to stop drinking alcohol.

Please see the bump leaflet on alcohol for information about how heavy drinking in pregnancy can affect the baby.


What are the benefits of taking disulfiram?

Disulfiram can help people who drink heavily to stop. This can improve, or help to prevent, the serious health problems that have been linked to heavy drinking.  However, disulfiram is generally avoided in pregnancy.


Are there any risks of taking disulfiram during pregnancy?

Very few pregnant women taking dilsulfiram have been studied and while no obvious problems have been noted, it is not possible to rule-out effects on the baby. The severe symptoms caused by mixing dilsulfiram and alcohol could be potentially harmful to both mother and baby. For both of these reasons, disulfiram tends not to intentionally be used during pregnancy.

If you are taking disulfiram and find out that you are pregnant, use of this medicine should be reviewed at the earliest opportunity by your GP or specialist.


Are there any alternatives to taking disulfiram?

Yes, there are a number of other ways that people who struggle with alcohol use can be helped. If you need support to stop drinking in pregnancy, please speak to your midwife, GP, or specialist.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to take medicines during pregnancy?

Disulfiram should generally not be used in pregnancy, but many other medicines can be used safely. Your doctor will only prescribe medicines when absolutely necessary and will be happy to talk to you about any concerns that you might have.

Will my baby need extra monitoring?

All pregnant women in the UK should be offered a detailed anomaly scan at around 20 weeks of pregnancy as part of their routine antenatal care. No extra monitoring for major birth defects is required following disulfiram use in pregnancy.

Are there any risks to my baby if the father has taken disulfiram?

We would not expect any increased risk to your baby if the father takes disulfiram.

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 www.uktis.org.

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.