Alcohol formula

NICU: Alcohol Poisoning by Proxy

Babies who get drunk on ethanol often do so because their mothers were drunk while producing formula. Infants born in hospital almost never develop alcohol-related deficiency, even in the presence of harmful practices such as excessive use of alcoholic hand sanitizers. This article reports an unusual case of acute ethanol poisoning that occurred at the NICU where the study subjects were being treated. An extremely premature infant (23 0/7 weeks gestational age, birth weight 580 g) treated in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) by researchers had numerous episodes of life-threatening hemodynamic compromise, apnea and lactic acidosis. Patients recovered completely after a short period of symptomatic treatment with intravenous fluids, intubation and, if necessary, catecholamines. All of these incidents have been traced to ethanol in breast milk. The baby’s mother breastfed, but on the recommendation of a relative, she drank heavily to increase her stamina so she could pump more frequently. She fed her baby both breast milk and cow’s milk as she feared he would not get enough. The interviews with the mother were long and, with the help of a translator, she confirmed our suspicions. This extraordinary case shows how cultural influences can add to the complexity of caring for premature infants. Investigators believe it is essential to emphasize the importance of working closely with parents of NICU patients and the importance of honest and trusting communication between all parties. Child safety concerns and the danger of poisoning must be considered even in a supposedly safe place like the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU).