Placental Abruption With Delayed Fetal Compromise in Maternal Acetaminophen Toxicity

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After maternal acetaminophen overdose, fetal fulminant liver failure, stillbirth, neonatal death, or preterm delivery may occur.


A 27-year-old woman, gravida 2 para 1, presented at 28 weeks of gestation after unintentional acetaminophen overdose. Four days after ingestion, her laboratory values worsened, including serum aspartate aminotransferase of 5,460 units/L, alanine aminotransferase of 4,936 units/L, and international normalized ratio of 2.9. On day 6 after ingestion, fetal monitoring showed minimal variability with repetitive variable and late decelerations, which prompted cesarean delivery when a hematoma was noted on the maternal placental surface, consistent with placental abruption. The neonate showed no evidence of hepatic dysfunction. Review of the literature suggests that maternal acetaminophen overdose in the second and third trimester is associated with a 5% incidence of fetal compromise (mostly the result of nonreassuring fetal status leading to delivery or stillbirth) occurring within 6 days of ingestion.


Maternal acetaminophen overdose can be associated with delayed fetal compromise, suggesting the importance of continued fetal surveillance several days after ingestion.

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