Date: August 2022, Version 3.0

Quick read

Paracetamol can be used throughout pregnancy to treat pain and high temperature (fever).

What is it?

Paracetamol is a painkiller and is also effective in bringing down a high temperature (fever).


What are the benefits of taking paracetamol?

Paracetamol is the first-choice painkiller for use in pregnancy. It can improve quality of life by helping to treat conditions including viral infections and headaches. Effective treatment of a high temperature during early pregnancy may also reduce the risk of the baby being born with a neural tube defect (such as spina bifida).


Are there any risks of taking paracetamol during pregnancy?

No. Paracetamol has been well-studied and there is no good evidence that it harms the baby. 

Although some studies suggest that paracetamol use in pregnancy might be linked to behavioural problems in children, experts have shown problems with these studies that make the findings unreliable. Overall, there is no proof that paracetamol exposure in the womb affects a child’s behaviour.


Are there any alternatives to taking paracetamol?

Possibly. Other painkillers can be used (depending on the stage of pregnancy) and some mild conditions may not require drug treatment. However, paracetamol is considered the safest painkiller to use in pregnancy. If a different painkiller is being considered, women should speak to a pharmacist or doctor first to make sure that it is right for them.

No treatment

What if I prefer not to take paracetamol during pregnancy?

Paracetamol is considered safe and there is no reason to avoid it during pregnancy if pain or a high temperature need treating.

Will my baby need extra monitoring?

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

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

There is currently no evidence that paracetamol used by the father can harm the baby through effects on the sperm.

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.