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Pregnancy Outcome Following Exposure to Topical Retinoids: A Multicenter Prospective Study


Address for correspondence: Alice Panchaud, Swiss Teratogen Information Service, STIS, Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois, Beaumont-6ème étage, 1011 Lausanne, Switzerland; e-mail:


Concerns have been raised about the use of topical retinoids since the publication of isolated cases of characteristic retinoid embryopathy, originally described after oral use. A collaborative study of the European Network of Teratology Information Services was carried out to evaluate the rate of congenital malformations following first-trimester topical retinoid exposure. A population of 235 exposed pregnant women was compared with 444 controls. No significant differences were observed between groups with regard to the rates of spontaneous abortion (odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 1.5 [0.8–2.7]), minor birth defects (1.3 [0.4–3.7]), and major birth defects (1.8 [0.6–5.4]). No child showed features of retinoid embryopathy. The rate of elective termination in the exposed group was increased 3-fold (3.4 [1.5–7.8]). In conclusion, these results do not suggest an increased risk of retinoid embryopathy. However, according to current knowledge, topical retinoids cannot be advised for use during pregnancy because their risk/benefit ratio remains questionable.

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