Medical Definition of Gray baby syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

Gray baby syndrome: A syndrome due to toxicity of the antibiotic chloramphenicol in the newborn, especially the premature newborn, because of lack the necessary liver enzymes to metabolize this drug. Chloramphenicol accumulates in the baby, causing hypotension (low blood pressure), cyanosis (blue coloring of lips, nail beds, and skin from lack of oxygen in the blood), and often death. Chloramphenicol is therefore usually not given to newborns or premature babies.

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Reviewed on 12/21/2018

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