Do neonatologists and parents share the same concerns about animal-derived pharmaceutical agents?

Abstract. Objective: The purpose of the study was to explore and compare parents’ and neonatologists’ views regarding animal-derived versus synthetic medications. Methods: Questionnaires were distributed to the directors of US neonatology divisions and to parents of newborns admitted to a tertiary level neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). Results: Of the 98 neonatologists and 150 parents contacted, 66 (67%) neonatologists and all parents responded. The majority (92%) of neonatologists were concerned about exposure of newborns to animal products, and 54% of the parents preferred synthetic agents of comparable efficacy over an animal-derived agent for their infant. Safety was the primary concern in 58% of the parents for choosing a synthetic version, while another 27% expressed social or religious objections to the use of animal-derived agents. In all, 99 (67%) of the 150 parents want to be informed if an animal-derived agent is administered to their newborn. However, when prescribing medications, 97% of the neonatologists never or only occasionally discuss the source of the medications. Conclusion: Concerns about exposure of newborns to animal-derived agents do exist. However, the majority of responding neonatologists do not discuss the source of medications and/or concerns about administering animal-derived agents with parents.

*Corresponding Author: 

Dr. Subrata Sarkar, F5790 C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital, 1500 E. Medical Center Drive, Ann Arbor, MI 48109-5254, USA. Tel.: +734 763 4109; Fax: +734 763 7728; Email: