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Pediatrics. 2008 Mar;121(3):522-9. doi: 10.1542/peds.2007-0213.

Effect of skin barrier therapy on neonatal mortality rates in preterm infants in Bangladesh: a randomized, controlled, clinical trial.

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Department of International Health E8153, Bloomberg School of Public Health, Johns Hopkins University, 615 North Wolfe St, Baltimore, MD 21205, USA.



Skin barrier therapy during the neonatal period, when the skin barrier is most highly compromised and the risk of death is greatest, has been shown to have a number of potential benefits, including reduced risk of nosocomial sepsis. Topical application of emollients that augment skin barrier function was evaluated as a strategy for improving survival rates among hospitalized preterm infants in Bangladesh.


A prospective, randomized, controlled, clinical trial was conducted in the special care nursery at Dhaka Shishu (Children) Hospital, the largest tertiary care children's hospital in Bangladesh. Preterm infants (gestational age: < or = 33 weeks; N = 497) received daily topical applications of sunflower seed oil or Aquaphor ointment. Neonatal mortality rates were compared in an intent-to-treat analysis with a control group that did not receive emollient therapy.


Treatment with sunflower seed oil resulted in a statistically significant 26% reduction in mortality rates, compared with infants not receiving topical emollient therapy. Aquaphor therapy also significantly reduced mortality rates, by 32%.


Topical therapy with skin barrier-enhancing emollients improved survival rates among preterm hospitalized infants in Bangladesh. This study provides strong evidence for the implementation of topical therapy for high-risk preterm neonates in developing countries.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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