Glucuronide conjugation is an important mechanism in the detoxification of chloramphenicol.1 The ability of normal adults to conjugate chloramphenicol, bilirubin, etc., with glucuronide is well established. Recent studies indicate that newborn mice, guinea pigs, and humans have a poorly developed glucuronide-conjugating mechanism.2-4 Presumably the young of other species may show a similar deficit. In such cases, drugs that are ordinarily detoxified by glucuronide conjugation thus may accumulate and more often reach toxic levels. Recent clinical reports suggest that chloramphenicol is more toxic in newborn human infants than in adults.5-7 The data on humans are limited and difficult to interpret because of inadequately controlled variables. Some experimental evaluation of chloramphenicol in the newborn versus adults therefore is desirable.
Forty-four litters containing a total of 394 newborn white mice of the CFW strain* were used in this study. Within 24 hours after birth, the newborns were weighed and