[Skip to Content]
[Skip to Content Landing]
March 1969

Acute Maternal Arsenic Intoxication With Neonatal Death

Author Affiliations

Birmingham, Ala
From the Perinatal Research Laboratory, the Newborn Division, departments of pediatrics and pharmacology, University of Alabama Medical Center, Birmingham.

Am J Dis Child. 1969;117(3):328-330. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1969.02100030330015

INORGANIC arsenic has been a common poison since ancient times and even to this day remains a problem in clinical toxicology. Although considerable information is available regarding most aspects of acute arsenic intoxication,1-3 little is known concerning placental transfer of this metaloid and its effects upon the human fetus. Although organic arsenic compounds enter the fetus in negligible amounts,4,5 animal studies suggest that, in contrast, inorganic arsenic compounds readily transverse the placenta in quantities capable of producing fetal damage.6 This report describes the case of a mother who ingested inorganic arsenic and the subsequent death of her newborn infant.

Report of a Case  A 17-year-old married white mother was referred to the University of Alabama Medical Center for treatment of acute renal failure 24 hours after she ingested approximately 30 ml of arsenic trioxide with total elemental arsenic 1.32% (Cowley's Rat and Mouse Poison). Immediately following