Official guidance about postnatal care may need to be updated after researchers have found that Johnson’s Baby Extra Sensitive Wipes were just as safe and hydrating as water and cotton wool on newborn skin. The study is published in BMC Pediatrics.

In order to determine whether the Johnson’s wipes were just as safe and effective as water in hydrating infants skin, researchers from the University of Manchester examined 280 newborn babies over a three-year period.

Although the UK’s National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE) recommends that mothers should only use water on their infants, the researchers found that the wipes were just as safe and effective.

“Baby wipes can be much more convenient for parents, especially when on the go, but current NICE guidelines recommend using cotton wool and water,” said Tina Lavender, Professor of Midwifery at the University’s School of Nursing, Midwifery and Social Work.

Lavender continued: “Our research, looking at one high street baby wipe, wanted to test whether the product was as safe and effective on newborn babies’ skin as water alone to see if midwives could help give parents more options than current guidelines provide.”

The researchers found that the occurrence of nappy rash was slightly reduced using the Johnson’s wipe, although the reduction was not statistically significant.

Lavender explained:

“Parents can now be confident that using this specific baby wipe, proven in the largest randomized clinical trial conducted in newborn cleansing, is equivalent to water alone. Our trial provides us with the strongest evidence available so far that we shouldn’t base our practice on tradition alone and that NICE need to look at its current guidelines.

For the first time, we now have a robust, adequately-powered study that can be used in practice, the results of which should be adopted by our national guidelines. These results should provide healthcare professionals with much needed evidence-based information, giving them the option to support the skin-care cleansing regime best suited to individual parents and their newborn babies.”

According to the researchers, newborns lose more water through their skin than adults, thus making them more vulnerable to environmental threats, Trans epidermal water loss (TEWL) does not decrease to ‘mature’ levels until at least age 1.

In the study, the researchers randomly assigned the 280 newborn babies into two groups: cleansing the nappy area with the wipes, and cleansing the nappy area with water and cotton wool.

Throughout the duration of the study, the mothers of the newborns were advised to only bathe their infants in water and not use any other product on their baby’s skin unless they had nappy rash, in which case they could apply a cream that they were provided.

The primary endpoint of the study was the change in hydration between the start of the trial and at four weeks. Hydration is a measure that shows how much water is contained in the skin.

Secondary endpoints of the trial were TEWL, Ph balance of the skin, erythema, nappy rash, microbial contamination, clinical observations as well as maternal views (diaries and questionnaires).

The study was funded by Johnson & Johnson, the makers of Johnson’s Baby.

Written By Grace Rattue