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Revista de la Sociedad Boliviana de Pediatría

versión On-line ISSN 1024-0675


COVAS, María del Carmen et al. Alcohol versus bath and natural drying for term newborns' umbilical cord care: a prospective randomized clinical trial. Rev. bol. ped. [online]. 2013, vol.52, n.2, pp.100-109. ISSN 1024-0675.

Background. Umbilical cord (UC) care is a cause of concern for parents from birth until its separation. Standard practice in Argentina includes frequent cleansing of the UC with alcohol and body bath only two days after its separation. The effect of different methods of UC care on its separation time and on colonization with microorganisms has been insufficiently explored. Objectives. Main: To compare the effect on time of UC separation when using body bath with neutral soap followed by natural drying of the UC vs. standard care. Secondary: a) colonization rates during hospitalization; b) incidence of skin infection and conjunctivitis and c) parental comfort with both types of care. Population. Normal term newborns (>37 weeks), born at the HPS, and whose parents provided informed consent. Methods. Open prospective controlled clinical trial, with random allocation to two groups: study group -natural drying of the UC and body bath with neutral soap-and control group -UC hygiene with alcohol 70% at each diaper change until its separation and bath two days later-. UC separation time; UC colonization during hospital stay and skin and conjunctive infections in the first 30 days of life were monitored. Analysis was by intention-to-treat. Results. 362 newborns were included, 181 in each group. The groups were well balanced in baseline characteristics. Being in the study group was associated with a shorter time to UC separation (median [interquartile range]= 6.00 [3] vs. 7.00 [4] days; p <0.001) and an increased frequency in nosocomial UC colonization (adjusted OR= 1.92 [1.22- 3.12], p= 0.007). No difference in the rate of infections was observed between both groups. Parental comfort was high and similar in both groups. Conclusions. Compared to standard practice in Argentina, body bath with neutral soap and natural drying of the UC reduced the time to cord separation. This practice increased the colonization rate, but the risk of skin and conjunctive infections was apparently not modified by it. However, the study has insufficient power for secondary outcomes. Health care providers should continue to develop evidence to support or eliminate historical practices.

Palabras clave : infant; newborn; umbilical cord; postnatal care; controlled clinical trial.

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