October 6, 1978

Hexachlorophene Teratogenicity in Humans Disputed

Author Affiliations

University of Lund Lund, Sweden

JAMA. 1978;240(15):1585-1586. doi:10.1001/jama.1978.03290150031008

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To the Editor. —  A news article by William Check (240:513, 1978) summarizes a study by Hildegard Halling, MD, from Sweden presented at a New York Academy of Sciences meeting. The study suggests that repeated handwashing with hexachlorophene (HCP)-containing detergents during pregnancy can be associated with a greatly increased incidence of both major and minor birth defects in the offspring. I have had the opportunity to follow Halling's study and would like to make the following comments.The news article gives the reader the impression that Halling first made an observation on an increased incidence of malformations among infants born to women who had washed their hands repeatedly with HCP, and that this prompted her to make an independent investigation of this problem by comparing the malformation rate in infants exposed to HCP during pregnancy and infants not exposed to HCP. Her study was not made in that way. She