J Clin Pathol 34:25-29 doi:10.1136/jcp.34.1.25
  • Research Article

Neonatal spongioform myelinopathy after restricted application of hexachlorophane skin disinfectant.


At least four out of 97 low birth weight (less than 1750 g) newborn infants who had received only limited skin disinfection with 3% hexachlorophane (HCP) emulsion developed spongioform myelinopathy in association with detectable amounts of HCP in their brains. These four cases were found in a post-mortem survey of 20 out of the 27 infants who died. Another nine of these infants had detectable amounts of HCP in the brain but no myelinopathy. It is at present not possible to define a 'safe" level of exposure to 3% HCP emulsion for small preterm infants in the first 2 weeks of life.