Accutane embryopathy




Accutane embryopathy is a rare disorder and it is also called as Fetal Retinoid Syndrome. Accutane Embryopathy is a characteristic pattern of mental and physical birth defects that results from maternal use of retinoids, the synthetic vitamin Aderivative during pregnancy. The most well known retinoid is Isotretinoin (Accutane), a drug used to treat severe nodular acne. Birth defects associated with fetal retinoid syndrome include: hydrocephalus, microcephaly, intellectual disabilities, ear and eye abnormalities, cleft palate and other facial differences, and heart defects. Isotretinoin can cause these birth defects in the early weeks of pregnancy, even before a woman knows that she is pregnant.


  • Growth delays before and after birth (prenatal and postnatal growth retardation)
  • Malformations of the skull and facial (craniofacial) region
  • Central nervous system abnormalities
  • Heart abnormalities
  • Specific facial features (sharply sloping forehead, small jaw flattened bridge of the nose, and an abnormal size and/or placing of the eye sockets and eyes)
  • Abnormal teeth mottling, facial nerve paralysis, and hair pattern abnormalities
  • Malformed ears (external ear abnormalities vary from very small (Microtia) or missing ear (anotia), and stenosis of external canal)
  • Tetralogy of fallot
  • Conotruncal malformations
  • Transposition of great cardiac vessels
  • Double outlet right ventricle
  • Aortic arch hypoplasia
  • Microcephaly (small head)
  • Hydrocephalus
  • Mild to moderate mental retardation with learning disabilities
  • Cerebellar hypoplasia
  • Thymic aplasia and thymic hypoplasia
  • Cleft palate


  • Hypertension
  • Diabetic retinopathy
  • Glaucoma
  • Cholesterol emboli
  • Papilledema
  • Pigmented crescent
  • Macular degeneration
  • Retinal detachment
  • Acute optic neuritis
  • Optic atrophy
  • Retinal hemorrhage
  • Chorioretinal exudates
  • Lipemia retinalis
  • Central retinal artery occlusion
  • Central retinal vein occlusion
  • Angioid streaks
  • Hyperviscosity Top


  • History of Accutane use by the mother during the first trimester of pregnancy
  • Recognition of the gross physical abnormalities in an exposed infant
  • A prenatal ultrasound evaluation may detect abnormalities such as heart defects, hydrocephalus or microcephaly, or some craniofacial abnormalities


  • Accutane embryopathy is a serious medical condition that is directly related to a maternal use of Accutane during the first trimester of her pregnancy
  • Although most individuals with Accutane embryopathy will have a normal lifespan, others may die at a young age due to complex internal abnormalities
  • Mild or moderate mental handicap is common even when there are no obvious physical features of Accutane embryopathy


  • The care of an infant with Accutane embryopathy after delivery is primarily symptomatic
  • Infants with serious heart abnormalities will need to be evaluated by cardiologists and may require surgery
  • Infants with brain and nervous system abnormalities, such as hydrocephalus may require shunt placement soon after birth
  • Speech therapy and behavioral counseling is required


  • NIH