Background Healthcare-associated infections (HAIs) have a significant impact on neonatal morbidity, mortality and long-term prognosis, which have a high incidence in neonates. Many studies have shown that chlorhexidine cleansing is effective in reducing HAIs in adults, but the effect of chlorhexidine cleansing on HAIs in neonates remains controversial.
Aim The purpose of this study was to conduct a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of chlorhexidine cleansing on HAIs in neonates. The protocol of this review has been registered with the PROSPERO international prospective register of systematic reviews.
Methods A systematic literature search was performed on five medical literature databases, namely MEDLINE, Web of Science, Embase, Scopus and Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature (CINAHL), published up until 3 March 2021. In the end, six studies were eligible for inclusion, including four randomised controlled trials and two quasi-experimental studies. Version 2 of the Cochrane tool for assessing risk of bias in randomised trials and the Joanna Briggs Institute critical appraisal checklist for quasi-experimental studies were used for quality assessment. Pooled risk ratios (RRs) and their associated 95% CIs were calculated using the fixed effects model (I2 <50%) or the random effects model (I2 ≥50%).
Findings and conclusions The results of the meta-analysis revealed that chlorhexidine cleansing had no significant effect on neonatal sepsis (RR: 0.49, 95% CI 0.18 to 1.38, p=0.18, I2=0%), but significantly reduced neonatal skin bacterial colonisation (RR: 0.61, 95% CI 0.42 to 0.90, p=0.01, I2=50%). In addition, this systematic review showed that chlorhexidine cleansing could significantly reduce central line-associated bloodstream infection in neonates based on large-sample studies. However, more studies are needed to determine the optimal concentration and frequency of chlorhexidine cleansing.
PROSPERO registration number CRD42021243858.
- infectious disease medicine
Data availability statement
All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.
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Contributors JZ and SC were responsible for the conception and design of the study. JZ and LM were responsible for the acquisition, analysis or interpretation of data. JZ was responsible for drafting the manuscript. SC and LM were responsible for critical revision of the manuscript for important intellectual content. JZ, LM and SC completed the final approval of the version to be published. JZ, LM and SC agreed to be accountable for all aspects of the work in ensuring that questions related to the accuracy or integrity of any part of the work are appropriately investigated and resolved. SC directed and supervised the study.
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.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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