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Research exposes the risk to infants from the chemicals used in liquid medicines
Date:1/21/2009

A team of medical scientists from the University of Leicester has published research which looks into the harmful substances in liquid medicines that premature babies are being exposed to.

Research published today (Jan 20) ahead of print in the Fetal & Neonatal Edition of Archives of Disease in Childhood documents the non-drug ingredients (excipients) present in liquid medicines given to premature infants as part of their medical care.

The study led by Dr Hitesh Pandya, Senior Lecturer in Child Health in the Department of Infection, Immunity and Inflammation at the University of Leicester and Consultant Paediatrician at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust, revealed that the chemicals added to medicines to improve their taste, absorption and to prolong their shelf-life could be potentially harmful to very small babies.

The chemicals generally used are ethanol, sorbitol and Ponceaau 4R (a colouring agent). The study revealed that premature babies are exposed to these potentially harmful excipients in amounts equivalent to over three pints of beer per week.

Dr Pandya said: "This study documents a worldwide problem. It shows that the collection of medicines given to babies may ultimately lead to them being exposed to harmful chemicals with the potential for short and long-term toxic effects. Our research highlighted this, and we are planning further studies on the chemicals to understand exactly what these effects might be. What our study hasn't done is find any direct evidence on the cause and effect of these chemicals and the medical problems that these babies might be being treated for."

Dr Andrew Currie, Consultant at the University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust who was also part of the research team said "Parents should not panic about these findings. These chemicals can be found in foods all around the world. What the study highlighted is that we have a greater understanding of the side
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Contact: Dr. Hitesh Pandya
hp28@le.ac.uk
44-011-625-25881
University of Leicester
Source:Eurekalert

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