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Risk of brain damage in babies from naphthalene in mothballs: call to consider a national ban

William O Tarnow-Mordi, Nick J Evans, Kei Lui and Brian Darlow, on behalf of the Advisory Committee of the Australian and New Zealand Neonatal Network
Med J Aust 2011; 194 (3): 150.

To the Editor: About 5% of Australians of Asian, African, Middle Eastern or Mediterranean descent have glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency.1 Affected babies can develop massive haemolysis within hours of exposure to clothes stored with mothballs containing naphthalene.

William O Tarnow-Mordi, Professor1
Nick J Evans, Clinical Associate Professor2
Kei Lui, Associate Professor3
Brian Darlow, Professor of Paediatric Research4
1 WINNER Centre for Newborn Research, University of Sydney, Westmead Hospital, Sydney, NSW.
2 Department of Newborn Care, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW.
3 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Royal Hospital for Women, Sydney, NSW.
4 Christchurch School of Medicine, University of Otago, Christchurch, New Zealand.
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Nkhoma ET, Poole C, Vannappagari V, et al. The global prevalence of glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Blood Cells Mol Dis 2009; 42: 267-278.
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Valaes T, Doxiadis SA, Fessas P. Acute hemolysis due to naphthalene inhalation. J Pediatr 1963; 63: 904-915.
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Commission of the European Communities. Commission Decision of 28 July 2008 concerning the non-inclusion of certain substances in Annexes I, IA or IB to Directive 98/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market (notified under document number C(2008) 3854). 2008/681/EC. Official Journal of the European Union 20 Aug 2008. http://www.salute.gov.it/imgs/C_17_pagineBiocidi_30_listaFile_itemName_6_file.pdf (accessed Jan 2011).
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European Chemicals Bureau. European Union risk assessment report. Naphthalene. CAS No: 91-20-3. EINECS No: 202-049-5. Luxembourg: Office for Official Publications of the European Communities, 2003. http://ecb.jrc.ec.europa.eu/documents/Existing-Chemicals/RISK_ASSESSMENT/REPORT/naphtha lenereport020.pdf (accessed Jan 2011).
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Victorian Poisons Information Centre. Annual report 2008. http://www.austin.org.au/Assets/Files/VPIC%20Annual%20Report%2008.pdf (accessed Jan 2011).
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