Using hot water, lantern heat, toothpaste for umbilical cord care dangerous –Paed

ola olagbemi Tue 27-Sep-22 23:09:08

Consultant paediatricians have warned against the use of toothpaste, heat from lanterns and hot water for the care of the umbilical cord.

Speaking with PUNCH HealthWise in separate interviews, the paediatricians also warned that using cow dung and mentholated ointment for the care of the umbilical cord can lead to infections and neonatal death.

 A Consultant Pediatrician and Head of Department at the Massey Street Children Hospital, Lagos, Olanike Olutekunbi, said cord care starts at birth.

 She noted that after birth, the cord is clamped and cut but a short stump that is left must be well taken care of, to prevent infections.

 “The infected cord and umbilical area can become red and swollen, ooze pus or infection may spread to the body through the blood. The baby may have tetanus if the umbilical stump is not well taken care of and especially if the mother was not immunised against tetanus.

 “All these are life-threatening and contribute significantly to neonatal mortality.

 “It is pertinent to keep the umbilical stump clean. In practice, we see a lot of inappropriate care and it is painful when a baby succumbs to complications from these inappropriate practice

 “Examples are the use of toothpaste, cow dung, and lantern for fomentation; hot water, herbs, and special mixtures concocted for cord care, and these are harmful practic


“Before now, the practice was to clean the cord frequently with methylated spirit, as frequently as the diaper was changed or more and to always leave the stump outside the diaper. The stump dries and falls off usually in two weeks; it may take longer in some babies,” she noted.

 Corroborating Dr. Olutekunbi, a Consultant Paediatrician, Dr. Ayodele Renner said the umbilical cord is a structure that connects the baby to the placenta in the womb.


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