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July 14, 1975

Hexachlorophene Bathing of Neonates

JAMA. 1975;233(2):172. doi:10.1001/jama.1975.03260020058029

During 1971, reports of clinical experience and experiments on rats implicated hexachlorophene as a cause of serious brain damage.1,2 Consequently, in February 1972, the Food and Drug Administration, the Committee on Fetus and Newborn of the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Center for Disease Control issued a joint recommendation to restrict the use of hexachlorophene-containing preparations for daily bathing of newborn infants.

In a recent issue of the American Journal of Diseases of Children (129:595-599, 1975), Hyams et al reported the results of adhering to that pretentious pronouncement at the Jackson Memorial Hospital in Miami. During the preceding 15 years, normal neonates had been routinely bathed with 3% hexachlorophene solution. When simple bar-soap bathing was substituted, colonization of infants by Staphylococcus aureus promptly ensued, and an epidemic of S aureus infections resulted.

The authors admitted that factors other than withdrawal of hexachlorophene may have been responsible. Yet, when