Baby wipes are 'as safe and effective' as Government-recommended cotton wool and water
Researchers tested one high street wipe against cotton wool and water on 280 babies over three yearsThey are now calling on National Institute of Clinical Excellence to change the advice it gives parents

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UPDATED:

13:50 GMT, 31 May 2012

Baby wipes are as safe and effective as cotton wool and water and can even soothe nappy rash, according to scientists.

A wipe is as gentle on baby skin as the cotton wool and water washing technique recommended by Government health experts, it is claimed.

Researchers at Manchester University tested the wipe against cotton wool and water on 280 babies over a three-year period.

The high street wipe tested is as gentle on baby skin as the cotton wool and water washing technique recommended by Government health experts

The high street wipe tested is as gentle on baby skin as the cotton wool and water washing technique recommended by Government health experts

They discovered that wipes are ‘as effective and as safe as water – but much more convenient for parents'.

And babies cleaned with wipes suffer less nappy rash.

The findings run contrary to guidelines
from the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (Nice), which
recommends that parents wash newborns with cotton wool and water
to avoid skin irritation.

Babies under the age one lose more moisture through their skin than older children and are more vulnerable to irritation, meaning parents have to use gentler washing techniques.

Lead researcher Tina Lavender said 'the wipes were ‘equivalent to water and cotton wool in terms of skin hydration'.

They also revealed slightly lower levels of maternal-reported napkin dermatitis – or nappy rash – among babies washed with wipes than those who had water and cotton wool used on them.

Professor Lavender said: 'Our trial provides us with
the strongest evidence available so far that we shouldn’t base our
practice on tradition alone and that Nice needs 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.

'We shouldn’t base our
practice on tradition alone and that Nice needs to look at its current
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.'

The experiment was sponsored
by wipe manufacturer Johnson & Johnson using their Extra Sensitive
Wipes.

But Professor Lavender said the research was carried out under ‘strict, independent scientific
protocols’, using blind tests and peer reviews.

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

'Parents can now be confident that using this specific baby wipe, proven in the largest randomised clinical trial conducted in newborn cleansing, is equivalent to water alone.'

The research was published in the journal BMC Paediatrics.