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May 1983

Benzyl Alcohol Poisoning

Author Affiliations

Hospital Infections Program Center for Infectious Disease Centers for Disease Control Atlanta, GA 30333

Am J Dis Child. 1983;137(5):505. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1983.02140310083026

Sir.—In the marginal comment "Fatal Benzyl Alcohol Poisoning in Neonatal Intensive Care Units: A New Concern for Pediatricians" (Journal 1982; 136: 974-975), Lovejoy described the newly reported gasping syndrome associated with the use of benzyl alcohol-preserved solutions. On the basis of these data, the Food and Drug Administration sent letters to health care personnel urging them not to use benzyl alcohol-preserved solutions in premature infants.1-4 At approximately the same time, a summary of the available data concerning the syndrome and the FDA warning was published in the Centers for Disease Control's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.5

Because all premature infants delivered in the United States would be at theoretical risk for exposure to benzyl alcohol-preserved solutions, these warnings were of considerable public health significance. To evaluate the effect of the FDA warning, we did a mail survey in September 1982 of past and present benzyl alcohol preservative use