Cord Care: Paediatrician Warns Against Unorthodox Methods


The use of concoctions, heat from lanterns and other unorthodox methods in the care of infant cord must be discouraged, a pediatrician at the National Hospital (NHA) Abuja, Dr. Tahir Lawal, has said.

Dr. Lawal told newsmen in Abuja recently that the connecting tissue between the baby’s placenta and the mother, called the umbilical cord, should not be treated with just anything than methylated spirit.

“Actually the umbilical cord is that connecting tissue between baby, placenta and the mother. After delivery, it contains blood vessels that carry blood from baby to placenta.

“Two arteries and the vein normally. Now after delivery, you tie it with a cord clamp and cut it, then clean with spirit and swab. The expected thing is that it should dry up and subsequently fall off.

“All you need for that is the methylated spirit for cleaning; immediately after cleaning, it will leave the place dry.

“And you do that whenever you are changing pampers or the minimum of, let’s say, three to four hourly intervals per day. That’s all that is needed.

“But I know that in our environment, there are a lot of funny things happening. I have seen a mother use engine oil, lantern, hot water, tooth paste and all sorts of things.

“Now, none of these is sterile and because that thing is a vessel containing arteries and a vein that means infections from there will simply go into the bloodstream.

“If you use water, it will remain wet, and it encourages growth of bacteria. All that is needed is methylated spirit.’’

Dr. Lawal said that over time, there were a lot of misconceptions by mothers on the care of umbilical cord and colic.

He explained that most mothers thought that it was an abnormal thing to see baby twist or cry.

He advised mothers to stop attributing the twisting and crying of babies to stomach pain.

He said: “A baby can cry from a lot of things. If he is hungry and he wants to eat, he cries. If he is wet, he’ll cry. When the room is stuffy, he will cry. If he is hot or sweaty, he will cry. Any sort of discomfort can make a baby cry and not necessarily because there is any pain anywhere.

“Sometimes a baby will cry simply because there is no one around and may want to be carried. That’s all the baby needs,’’ Dr. Lawal said

He stressed that the use of drugs should not be encouraged when infants twisted their bodies because such practice could lead to intestinal damage.

He recommended breast-feeding, rather than drugs as anti-dote to discomforting movement of the body by the baby.

“Check if the environment is too hot; too cold or stuffy or may the baby is wet, and adjust to the situation appropriately,’’ he said.