BACKGROUND: The incidence of chlorioamnionitis occurs in between 8 to 12 women for every 1000 live births and 96% of the cases of chlorioamnionitis are due to ascending infection. Following spontaneous vaginal delivery, 1% to 4% of women develop postpartum endometritis. The incidence of neonatal sepsis is 0.5% to 1% of all infants born. Maternal vaginal bacteria are the main agents for these infections. It is reasonable to speculate that prevention of maternal and neonatal infections might be possible by washing the vagina and cervix with an antibacterial agent for all women during labour. Chlorhexidine belongs to the class of compounds known as the bis-biguanides. Chlorhexidine has antibacterial action against a wide range of aerobic and anaerobic bacteria, including those implicated in peripartal infections. OBJECTIVES: To evaluate the effectiveness and side-effects of chlorhexidine vaginal douching during labour in reducing maternal and neonatal infections (excluding Group B Streptococcal and HIV). SEARCH STRATEGY: We searched the Cochrane Pregnancy and Childbirth Group trials register (July 2003), the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials (The Cochrane Library, Issue 4, 2002), MEDLINE (from 1966 to 2002), EMBASE (from 1980 to 2002), CINAHL (from 1982 to 2002) and LILACS (from 1982 to 2002). SELECTION CRITERIA: Randomized or quasi-randomized trials comparing chlorhexidine vaginal douching during labour with placebo or other vaginal disinfectant to prevent (reduce) maternal and neonatal infections (excluding Group B Streptococcal and HIV). DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS: Two reviewers independently assessed trial eligibility and quality, extracted and entered the data into the RevMan software and interpreted the data. A third reviewer analysed and interpreted the data. The fourth reviewer also interpreted the data. MAIN RESULTS: Three studies (3012 participants) were included. There was no evidence of an effect of vaginal chlorhexidine during labour in preventing maternal and neonatal infections. Although the data suggest a trend in reducing postpartum endometritis, the difference was not statistically significant (relative risk 0.83; 95% confidence interval 0.61 to 1.13). REVIEWERS' CONCLUSIONS: There is no evidence to support the use of vaginal chlorhexidine during labour in preventing maternal and neonatal infections. There is a need for a well-designed randomized controlled trial using appropriate concentration and volume of vaginal chlorhexidine irrigation solution and with adequate sample size.
|Original language||English (US)|
|Journal||Cochrane database of systematic reviews (Online)|
|Publication status||Published - 2004|