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Vaginal chlorhexidine during labour to prevent early-onset neonatal group B streptococcal infection

Stade BC, Shah VS, Ohlsson A
Published Online: 
16 April 2008

Not enough evidence to show that washing the vagina with chlorhexidine during labour reduces group B streptococcal infections in babies.

A woman's vagina normally contains numerous bacteria that generally pose no problems to her or to her baby. However, very occasionally a baby picks up an infection during birth. GBS infection can cause severe illness in babies, and very occasionally a baby may die. Washing the vagina with chlorhexidine, or applying chlorhexidine gel, during labour was studied as a possible means of reducing infections. The review of five trials (including approximately 2190 term and preterm infants) showed that although chlorhexidine reduced the number of bacteria that passed to the babies, the studies were not large enough to say whether it reduced GBS infections or not.