Addressing Critical Knowledge Gaps in Newborn Health

Chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care

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Welcome to the chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care topic page. This page provides the latest news, resources, multimedia and blogs on the use of chlorhexidine for umbilical cord care—a safe and effective intervention to prevent neonatal infection. This intervention is low cost and can be integrated into existing newborn care programs and platforms.

Severe infection is one of the top three causes of newborn deaths worldwide, claiming approximately 13% of all neonatal deaths each year (Liu et al. 2012). In low-resource, high-mortality settings, infections can account for over half of the neonatal deaths. A baby's newly cut umbilical cord can be an entry point for bacteria, which can lead to cord infection and potentially life-threatening sepsis. Poor hygiene and lack of antisepsis at birth and in the first week of life increases the risk of deadly but preventable infections.

Evidence supports 7.1% chlorhexidine digluconate (delivering 4% chlorhexidine) for cord cleansing as an efficacious, acceptable, feasible and cost-effective strategy to reduce neonatal mortality in settings where poor hygiene and high neonatal mortality are issues.

Browse the HNN Technical Resource page on chlorhexidine to find resources, guidelines and tools aimed to support program managers, policymakers and stakeholders in countries where early implementation of chlorhexidine is possible. 

Countries have made progress in the implementation of this intervention. Learn about programmatic experiences to date, and check out some recent highlights:

Nigeria: 

  • March 2014: A Nigerian company, Drugfield Pharmaceuticals Ltd, was granted regulatory approval to produce chlorhexidine gel. Read the press release here.

  • February 2014: A delegation of Nigerian stakeholders traveled to Nepal to learn about the success of their chlorhexidine program to prevent newborn infection. Click here to read a blog on the learning visit and watch the short video:

Nepal:

Nepal has become a leader among low-resource countries in the use of chlorhexidine to ensure that a newborn’s umbilical cord is cleansed properly immediately after birth. Ten years after the initial trial of chlorhexidine in Nepal’s Banke district, mothers are now being provided the gel, at no cost, in 36 of Nepal’s 75 districts. 

Click on the tabs below or navigate to the Technical Resource Page to download tools, guidelines, power points and more.