Do you have to give your newborn the eye ointment after birth in Texas? Here are the facts.

Newborn Eye Ointment in Texas

What does the law say?


Have you heard about the newborn eye ointment that is supposedly ‘required by law’ to give to all newborns in Texas? Oftentimes an OBGYN will tell a new, first time mom that the ‘eye goop’ is required by law, that parents can go to jail for refusing to have it administered. This is absolutely not the case.

Until the law was recently amended this was a very grey area. Previously the law stated that it was a misdemeanor if the physician, nurse, etc. did not ‘apply, or cause to apply, the ointment’. “Cause to apply” means to attempt to or offer to apply, it does not mean that the parent must allow it.

(a) A physician, nurse, midwife, or other person in attendance at childbirth shall apply, or cause to be applied, to the child’s eyes a 0.5% ophthalmic erythromycin ointment in each eye within two hours after birth.

Now that the Texas Administration Code regarding this issue has been amended it states that if the parent or guardian, etc. objects then the physician, midwife, etc. does not commit an offense for failure to administer the ointment.

(c) A physician, nurse, midwife, or other person in attendance at childbirth who is unable to apply the prophylaxis as required by this section due to the objection of a parent, managing conservator, or guardian of the newborn infant does not commit an offense under this section and is not subject to criminal, civil, or administrative liability or any professional disciplinary action for failure to administer the prophylaxis. The physician, nurse, midwife, or person shall ensure that the objection of the parent, managing conservator, or guardian is entered into the medical record of the infant.

It’s unlikely that your doctor is up to date on this regulation, so if you are a first time mom they will just state what they believe to be true, or what they have been told, when in reality the law is on your side to refuse the ointment being administered. It’s a good idea to have a copy of this code printed and attached to your birth plan, as well as readily available with you at the time of delivery in case you have a different doctor.

Click here to access the Texas Administrative Code (Title 25, Part 1, Chapter 97, Sub-chapter

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