Recent Study Advises of Potential Neonatal Ethanol Exposure from Ethanol-based Hand Sanitizers in Isolettes

PUBLISHED: Jun 13, 2017
Relevant to: Hospitals

A recent study in the British Medical Association’s Archives of Disease in Childhood, Fetal and Neonatal Edition evaluated the ethanol vapors that exist in the isolate after use of hands cleaned with ethanol-based hand sanitizers (EBHS).

For the UK-based study, investigators evaluated two squirts (1.5 ml) of hand sanitizer rubbed on hands for 10 seconds or 20 seconds before inserting the hands into the isolette for 5 minutes. The ethanol vapors were then measured in the isolette with photoionisation detector and alcohol breathalyzer for 30 minutes.

Results found that peak ethanol concentration in the isolette was considerably higher with a 10 second hand rub compared with a 20 second hand rub. Further, results show that under routine care, ethanol based hand rub use by care provider’s exposes neonates in isolettes to 3.7-7.3 or 1.4-2.8 mg/kg ethanol per day with 10 second or 20 second hand rubs, respectively. The expected blood level from an average single exposure is 0.036 mg/dL with 10 second hand rub and may increase further with multiple exposures in a short period.

The study investigators conclude that preterm neonates in the isolette are at risk of inadvertent exposure to ethanol. While the expected blood alcohol level from this exposure is small, the unintended ethanol exposure can be avoided by rubbing hands for at least 20 seconds after applying ethanol based hand sanitizers.

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