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Baby medicines may 'harm'

Tuesday January 20th, 2009

Babies who receive medicines may be overdosing on harmful chemicals, including alcohol, experts claimed today.

Babies and infants usually receive medicines in liquid form - but a new analysis claims that the liquid part of the medicine has never been tested adequately for safety on young children.

Premature babies who need regular doses of medicines may be most at risk - receiving up to seven units of alcohol a week, according to Dr Hitesh Pandya, of Leicester Royal Infirmary, UK.

Researchers studied medicines given to 38 babies treated in the neonatal department of one hospital and found they were exposed to 20 different chemicals, including ethanol and another chemical propylene glycol, which, they say, can also cause nerve damage.

Writing in the Archives of Disease in Childhood, the researchers say that few studies have been done on the safety of these chemicals, known as excipients, in young patients.

Dr Pandya writes: "We feel it is important that the medicines regulators not only ensure that all manufacturers provide detailed labelling of the excipient content of their products but all lead action to determine whether existing practice constitutes a risk, and if so, how this might be dealt with."

A second study reported today warns that hospital cleaning products and disinfectants may place nurses at risk of developing asthma.

Researchers found that nurses responsible for the regular cleaning of instruments were 67 per cent more likely than others to have developed asthma since starting work.

The study of 900 nurses took part in Texas, USA, and is reported today in the journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine.

Researchers led by Professor Ahmed Arif, of the University of North Carolina, USA, write: "Substituting cleaning agents with environmentally friendly green chemicals and using appropriate personal care protection could help minimise occupational exposures in this professional group."

Arch Dis Child Fetal Neonatal Ed 2009;doi 10.1136/adc.2008.146035,
Occup Environ Med 2009; 10.1136/oem.2008.042382

Tags: Child Health | North America | Nursing & Midwifery | UK News

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