Oral mucosal mouthwash with chlorhexidine does not reduce the incidence of ventilator-associated pneumonia in critically ill children: A randomised controlled trial

Published:August 07, 2021DOI:



      Ventilator-associated pneumonia (VAP) is one of the most frequently encountered causes of hospital-acquired infection and results in high morbidity among intubated patients. Few trials have investigated the efficacy of oral care with chlorhexidine (CHX) mouthwash for the prevention of VAP in the paediatric population.


      The objective of this study was to assess the efficacy of CHX mouthwash in the prevention of VAP and to determine risk factors for VAP in children aged 1 month to 18 years admitted to the paediatric intensive care unit (PICU).


      This was a prospective, randomised, controlled, double-blind trial performed in the PICU. Patients were randomised into two groups receiving CHX (0.12%) (n = 88) or placebo (0.9% NaCl) (n = 86) and were followed up for VAP development. The main outcome measures were incidence of VAP, duration of hospital stay, duration of PICU stay, duration of ventilation, mortality, and the characteristics of organisms isolated in cases with VAP.


      No difference was observed in the incidence of VAP and the type and distribution of organisms in the two groups (p > 0.05). In the CHX and placebo groups, we identified 21 and 22 patients with VAP, respectively. Incidence per 1000 ventilation days was 29.5 events in the CHX group and 35.1 events in the placebo group. Gram-negative bacteria were most common (71.4% in CHX vs. 54.5% in placebo). The use of 0.12% CHX did not influence hospital stay, PICU stay, ventilation, and mortality (p > 0.05). Multivariate analysis identified duration of ventilation as the only independent risk factor for VAP (p = 0.001).


      The use of 0.12% CHX did not reduce VAP frequency among critically ill children. The only factor that increased VAP frequency was longer duration on ventilation. It appears that low concentration of CHX is not effective for VAP prevention, especially in the presence of multiresistant bacteria. Identifier


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