Can hand hygiene prevent infection in newborn babies?

hand washing

Key messages:

1. Two percent chlorhexidine gluconate ((CHG) antiseptic detergent) probably reduces the risk of bacterial infections in neonates compared to alcohol hand sanitiser within the first 28 days of life. 

2. There was not much difference in the undesirable effects of various hand hygiene interventions on the skin of caregivers. 

3. We are not sure which  type of hand hygiene is best for preventing infection in newborn babies. 

Why is hand hygiene important?

Every year, about 500,000 newborn babies die as a result of an infection caused by bacteria. Most of these deaths occur in poor countries. The hands of mothers and other caregivers harbour a lot of germs that are acquired during contact secretions and diaper changes; they have been linked to infections in newborns. These infections may be prevented when caregivers of these babies practice good hand hygiene. 


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