(HealthDay News) – For critically ill pediatric patients, daily bathing in chlorhexidine gluconate (CHG) is associated with reduced incidence of bacteremia, according to a study published online Jan. 28 in The Lancet.

Aaron M. Milstone, MD, from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, and colleagues conducted an unmasked cluster-randomized, two-period crossover study to examine whether daily bathing in CHG reduces bacteremia in critically ill children, aged older than 2 months. The participants included 4,947 admissions at 10 pediatric intensive care units in five hospitals, which were randomly assigned to standard bathing practices or bathing using a cloth impregnated with 2% CHG for a six-month period.

The researchers observed a nonsignificant reduction in the incidence of bacteremia with CHG bathing vs. standard practice in the intention-to-treat analysis (3.52 vs. 4.93 per 1,000 days). The incidence of bacteremia was significantly reduced with CHG bathing vs. standard practices in the per-protocol population (3.28 vs. 4.93 per 1,000 days; adjusted incidence rate ratio, 0.64). There were no serious study-related adverse events, and the incidence of skin reactions linked to CHG was 1.2 per 1,000 days.

“In this large multicenter study, we have shown that a simple and easily implementable intervention decreased bacteremia in critically ill children,” the authors write. “Although the observed results would be further strengthened by replication in other similar studies, broad use of this intervention could reduce morbidity and costs from bacteremia in this vulnerable and understudied population.”

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and health care industries. The study was partially funded by Sage Products.

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