The use of certain parenteral formulations of dexamethasone, hydrocortisone, methylprednisolone, prednisolone and triamcinolone is considered by the drug manufacturers to be contraindicated in neonates, particularly premature infants and infants of low birth weight. Some formulations of these drugs contain benzyl alcohol which, when used in bacteriostatic saline intravascular flush and endotracheal tube lavage solutions, has been associated with fatalities and severe respiratory and metabolic complications in low-birth-weight premature infants. However, many experts feel that, in the absence of benzyl alcohol-free equivalents, the amount of the preservative present in these formulations should not necessarily preclude their use if they are clearly indicated. The American Academy of Pediatrics considers benzyl alcohol in low doses (such as when used as a preservative in some medications) to be safe for newborns. Continuous infusions of high dosages of medications containing benzyl alcohol may, however, cause toxicity and should be avoided if possible.
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