Objective: To assess chlorhexidine absorption and skin tolerability in premature infants, following skin antisepsis with 2% aqueous chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) prior to peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) placement.
Study design: Neonates less than 32 weeks gestation had skin cleansed with CHG prior to PICC placement. CHG concentrations were measured on serial blood samples. Skin integrity was evaluated for 2 weeks after CHG exposure.
Result: Twenty infants were enrolled; median gestational age was 28 2/7 weeks (range 24 3/7 to 31 4/7). Ten infants had detectable serum chlorhexidine concentrations (range 1.6 to 206 ng ml(-1)). Seven of these infants had their highest serum concentration 2 to 3 days following exposure. No CHG-related skin irritation occurred in any infant.
Conclusion: CHG was detected in the blood of preterm infants receiving CHG skin antisepsis for PICC insertion. Highest serum concentrations occurred 2 to 3 days after exposure. Further investigation is needed to determine the clinical relevance of CHG absorption in preterm infants.