News / Africa

Umbilical Cord Cleanser Cuts Infant Mortality

TEXT SIZE - +
Jennifer Lazuta
— Save the Children is partnering with GlaxoSmithKline to reformulate an antiseptic to clean newborns' umbilical cords, a simple intervention that researchers in South Asia have found can prevent one out of every six newborn deaths in the developing world.  Save the Children, in its State of the World’s Mothers report this week, identified this intervention as a key strategy to saving as many as one million babies worldwide who die each year on their first day of life.  

Umbilical cord infections are one of the leading causes of newborn deaths, particularly in the developing world where babies are often born under poor hygienic conditions.

Save the Children says that the 14 countries with the highest first-day death rates are all in sub-Saharan Africa.  And the group notes that of the one million babies worldwide each year who die on their first day of life, 40 percent are born in West and Central Africa.

Infections such as sepsis, meningitis and tetanus account for approximately 15 percent of all newborn deaths.  They are caused by bacteria that enter the bloodstream after the umbilical cord is cut.

Preventing these infections is key because antibiotics are not always available - either the health center does not have them or a family can’t afford them.

Research shows that chlorhexidine, an inexpensive, easy-to-use antiseptic that is commonly found in mouthwash, can also be used to cleanse the umbilical cord stumps of newborn babies and prevent such infections.

Simon Wright is the head of child survival at Save the Children.

“There are tubes of chlorhexidine that are available.  What is not available is a formulation which is suitable for delivery when you can’t refrigerate the product, that maybe needs to be used in the home by new mothers and used every day for the first seven days of the baby's life," said Wright.

Save the Children says that one seven-day treatment cycle of the liquid antiseptic costs about 25 U.S. cents.

It can be administered even by minimally trained health workers or by family members.

Trial studies in Nepal, Bangladesh and Pakistan show that applying liquid chlorhexidine to the umbilical cord stump after birth can reduce the risk of newborn death by up to 23 percent.

Wright said Save the Children is now working with the British multinational pharmaceutical company GlaxoSmithKline, (GSK) to create a new gel form of the antiseptic adapted for use in health centers with minimal resources.

Doctor Pauline Williams is leading the chlorhexidine project at GSK.

“What we’re going for is a gel, which seems to have a lot of user preference on the mother’s side, but also has practicalities of when she squirts it on the umbilical it will stay on. There’s been a central study non-inferiority showing that it’s as good, if not better than the liquid.  You can also put it in a sachet, so that means we have the opportunity to put it in or bundle with a clean delivery kit," said Williams.

Williams said GSK and Save the Children plan to provide training materials for midwives and health workers and provide picture instructions to make it user-friendly even for illiterate mothers.

She said they are hoping to keep the cost at about 25 cents per baby treated.

Dr. Williams said that it will take at least one year to develop the optimum formulation and stability of the gel.  The formula will then have to be approved by regulators before it will made available to the public.

You May Like

Abuja Blast Impacts Lives, Livelihoods

Officials say they are looking at ways to help bombing victims and boosting security More

Cambodia Technology Adviser Criticizes Cybercrime Draft Law

Phu Leewood says current criminal code can be used to prosecute offenders and that there is no need for a separate law More

Photogallery A Year Later, Boston Remembers Deadly Marathon Bombings

City pauses to honor victims and salute emergency workers who came to their assistance in frantic moments after blasts More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Google Buys Drone Companyi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X
George Putic
April 15, 2014
In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ray Bonneville Sings the Blues and More on New CD

Singer/songwriter Ray Bonneville has released a new CD called “Easy Gone” with music that reflects his musical and personal journey from French-speaking Canada to his current home in Austin,Texas. The eclectic artist’s fan base extends from Texas to various parts of North America and Europe. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin.
Video

Video Millions Labor in Pakistan's Informal Economy

The World Bank says that in Pakistan, roughly 70 percent work in the so-called informal sector, a part of the economy that is unregulated and untaxed. VOA's Sharon Behn reports from Islamabad on how the informal sector impact's the Pakistani economy.
Video

Video Passover Celebrates Liberation from Bondage

Jewish people around the world are celebrating Passover, a commemoration of their liberation from slavery in Egypt more than 3,300 years ago. According to scripture, God helped the Jews, led by Moses, escape bondage in Egypt and cross the Red Sea into the desert. Zlatica Hoke reports that the story of the Jewish Exodus resonates with other people trying to escape slave-like conditions.
Video

Video Police Pursue Hate Crime Charges Against Kansas Shooting Suspect

Prosecutors are sifting through the evidence in the wake of Sunday’s shootings in a suburb of Kansas City, Missouri that left three people dead. A suspect in the shootings taken into custody is a white supremacist. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, he was well-known to law enforcement agencies and human rights groups alike.
Video

Video In Eastern Ukraine, Pro-unity Activists Emerge from Shadows

Amid the pro-Russian uprisings in eastern Ukraine, there is a large body of activists who support Ukrainian unity and reject Russian intervention. Their activities have remained largely underground, but they are preparing to take on their pro-Moscow opponents, as Henry Ridgwell reports from the eastern city of Donetsk.
Video

Video Basket Maker’s Skills Have World Reach

A prestigious craft show in the U.S. capital offers one-of-a-kind creations by more than 120 artists working in a variety of media. As VOA’s Julie Taboh reports from Washington, one artist lucky enough to be selected says sharing her skills with women overseas is just as significant.
Video

Video UN Report Urges Speedier Action to Avoid Climate Disaster

A new United Nations report says the world must switch from fossil fuels to cleaner energy sources to control the effects of climate change. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change released the report (Sunday) following a meeting of scientists and government representatives in Berlin. The comprehensive review follows two recent IPCC reports that detail the certainty of climate change, its impacts and in this most recent report what to do about it. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble has the details.
AppleAndroid