Publicity about the possible carcinogenicity of chloral hydrate along with the suggestion that alternative sedatives should be used in children has generated concern among physicians, dentists, and their patients. Replacement of chloral hydrate with other sedatives would represent a major change in practice since it is one of the drugs most widely employed to sedate young children undergoing dental and medical procedures, and imaging studies. This statement is to assist the practitioner in making an informed decision regarding the use of chloral hydrate by summarizing: (1) information pertaining to the potential for carcinogenesis associated with use of chloral hydrate; (2) the risk/benefit considerations of available sedatives; and (3) risks associated with prolonged sedation with chloral hydrate.

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