Effect of predelivery vaginal antisepsis on maternal and neonatal morbidity and mortality in Egypt

J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2005 Jul-Aug;14(6):496-501. doi: 10.1089/jwh.2005.14.496.


Objective: The objective of this study was to determine if cleansing the birth canal with an antiseptic solution at delivery reduces infections in mothers and their newborn babies.

Methods: Women giving birth in the University Hospital, Alexandria, and their newborns were studied. No intervention for 3 months was followed by 3 months of intervention. Intervention consisted of manually wiping the maternal birth canal with a 0.25% chlorhexidine solution at admission and at every vaginal examination before delivery. Babies were also wiped with chlorhexidine.

Results: The study enrolled 4415 women and 4431 newborns. The nonintervention phase comprised 2128 mothers and 2138 newborns, and 2287 mothers and 2293 babies were enrolled in the intervention phase. There were no adverse reactions related to the intervention among the mothers or their children. There was no difference in the overall number of neonatal admissions in both groups, but the admissions because of infection, deaths, and mortalities from infection were significantly less in the intervention group. Among mothers receiving the intervention, admissions, deaths, and infections were significantly reduced.

Conclusions: Cleansing the birth canal with chlorhexidine reduced neonatal and maternal postpartum infections. The safety, simplicity, and low cost of the procedure suggest that it should be considered standard care for the reduction of infant and maternal morbidity and mortality.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Intravaginal
  • Adult
  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local / administration & dosage*
  • Chlorhexidine / administration & dosage*
  • Egypt / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Infant Mortality
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / drug therapy*
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / microbiology
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / mortality
  • Infection Control / methods
  • Infection Control / statistics & numerical data*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / prevention & control*
  • Infectious Disease Transmission, Vertical / statistics & numerical data
  • Obstetric Labor Complications / drug therapy
  • Pregnancy
  • Puerperal Infection / drug therapy*
  • Puerperal Infection / microbiology
  • Puerperal Infection / mortality
  • Sepsis / drug therapy*
  • Sepsis / microbiology
  • Sepsis / mortality
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Vaginal Diseases / drug therapy


  • Anti-Infective Agents, Local
  • Chlorhexidine