Health FAQs

How to Prevent Omphalitis in newborn

How to Prevent Omphalitis in newborn-Omphalitis of the newborn is the medical term for inflammation of the umbilical cord stump in the neonatal period which is characterized by redness, oedema, tenderness, purulent discharge, fever, lethargy, poor feeding, the cord is soft, offensive smell, cellulitis, pain, tachycardia, yellow skin (jaundice). It is most commonly attributed to bacterial infection caused by staphylococcus aureus, streptococcus, and Escherichia coli.

It is common in immunocompromised individuals, premature babies, and other infections like sepsis or pneumonia, omphalitis is one of the major causes of neonatal morbidity and mortality, it accounts for about 2-7 mortality rate per 100 live births.

See Also, How to Prevent Preterm and Premature birth


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The physiology of cord care

The umbilical cord is a unique tissue consisting of two arteries and one vein covered by mucoid connective tissue known as “Wharton’s jelly” covered by a thin layer of the mucous membrane.

Following delivery, the cord quickly starts to dry out, harden and turn black (a process call gangrene) This is helped by exposure to the air. the umbilical cord vessel remains patent for several days.

so the risk of infection remains high until separation should be completed within 5-15days (ovaries with different authors) use of antiseptics. Antiseptics appear to reduce the number of normal non-pathogenic flora around the umbilicus.


Main Rules oF Cord care

There are three main rules for cord care which include;

  • Strict asepsis at delivery
  • Cutting the cord with a sterile instrument
  • Keeping the cord and surrounding area clean and dry until separation.


How to Prevent Omphalitis in newborn

  • Proper regular hand washing before and after vaginal examination prior to the cutting of the cord
  • Immediate skin to skin contact following delivery to ensure non-pathogenic colonization from mother to baby.
  • Early and frequent breastfeeding should be encouraged as this provides added protection against infection
  • Leave the cord open to the air, this will allow the cord to dry naturally.
  • Fold-down the napkin or pampers so that the cord is left exposed
  • Never use cotton as it may leave filament behind on the cord
  • Tetanus is important for women of childbearing age
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