Aims: To compare the effects on time of umbilical cord separation of cleaning with 95% alcohol and natural drying in a high-humidity subtropical country.
Methods: One hundred and fifty neonates were randomly assigned to two groups, 75 in each. For the control group, umbilical cleansing with 95% alcohol was performed after daily bathing; natural drying without a topical regimen was used for the trial group.
Results: Complete information was obtained for 71 neonates in the control group and 71 in the trial group. At 1 month after delivery, no enrolled neonate had developed omphalitis or skin infection. Cord separation time was significantly reduced for the natural-drying group compared with the alcohol-cleansing group (p=0.014). In both groups, separation time was longer for newborns delivered by caesarean section than for those delivered vaginally (p=0.001). Nine mothers in the trial group and five in the control group complained of discharge from the umbilicus. Separation time was not influenced by gender, gestational age, birthweight or length, gravidity, meconium staining, maternal age or presence of discharge.
Conclusions: Cleaning with 95% alcohol did not reduce umbilical cord separation time. This traditional method is not necessary for routine cord management, even in a subtropical country.