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Bathing babies: current practices in UK neonatal intensive care units
  1. Madhuvanthi Dhamodaran1,
  2. Catriona Firth2,
  3. Mark A Webber3,4,
  4. Paul Clarke1,4
  1. 1 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Norwich, UK
  2. 2 Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Bradford Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Bradford, UK
  3. 3 Quadram Institute Bioscience, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, UK
  4. 4 Norwich Medical School, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK
  1. Correspondence to Prof Paul Clarke; paul.clarke{at}

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Bathing and skin cleansing/disinfection practices are important infection prevention and control measures in hospitalised patients. Yet there are few studies for the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) environment, and some practices may pose peculiar risk, for example inadvertent infection when using contaminated tap water.1 While a meta-analysis in adult patients, mostly in intensive care, showed that daily washing with chlorhexidine gluconate halved the risk of catheter-related bloodstream infections,2 the latest national evidence-based guidelines for preventing healthcare-associated infections in the National Health Service (‘epic3’) contain no specific recommendations regarding bathing or regular antiseptic washes for neonates/children.3

To investigate current UK practices, we conducted a telephone questionnaire of all 60 tertiary-level NICUs. We asked senior/lead nurses about their unit’s bathing/skin cleansing policy. We surveyed between November 2019 and February 2020 and used a bespoke pro forma (online supplemental file S1).

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  • Twitter @drpaulclarke

  • Contributors PC conceived the idea for the study and designed the questionnaire with MD; MD conducted the telephone survey and analysed the data with PC. MD and CF wrote the first manuscript draft. All authors provided intellectual input, contributed to manuscript revision and approved the final version. PC is guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not applicable.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Supplemental material This content has been supplied by the author(s). It has not been vetted by BMJ Publishing Group Limited (BMJ) and may not have been peer-reviewed. Any opinions or recommendations discussed are solely those of the author(s) and are not endorsed by BMJ. BMJ disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the content. Where the content includes any translated material, BMJ does not warrant the accuracy and reliability of the translations (including but not limited to local regulations, clinical guidelines, terminology, drug names and drug dosages), and is not responsible for any error and/or omissions arising from translation and adaptation or otherwise.