A friend asked:
“Please, is there any correlation between not bathing a baby well at birth and body odour? What are the likely causes of body odour? We hear different things from the older generation that when a baby is not bathed well at birth, it can cause body odour. Enlighten us, please!”
It’s a myth!
Causes of body odour include: genetic factors (it runs in some families), skin infections, excessive or inadequate sweat production, underlying medical conditions, some medicines (like steroids), poor hygiene, dietary habits (like excess alcohol, coffee, strong spices, etc.)
-Impeccable personal hygiene
-Quitting alcohol and smoking
-Cutting down or eliminating whatever might be the trigger (like pungent spices)
-Regular use of deodorants or antiperspirants
-Wearing loose clothings (no leggings, no tight bra etc.)
-Daily bath (or more frequently as required)
If it persists, see a doctor and treat any identified underlying condition.
The white cheesy stuff that you see on the baby at birth is called VERNIX CASEOSA. It serves a lot of protective functions while the baby is in the womb. It also makes childbirth easier by acting like a lubricant as the baby journeys through the birth canal. WHO recommends leaving it on the baby for at least 6 hours after birth, and up to 24 hours preferably.
Exceptions include babies of mothers who have HIV, Hepatitis B or chorioamnionitis. They need to be bathed ASAP to minimise the risk of mother-to-child transmission.
There should be no rush in washing off the vernix, and even when you do, it should be done gently and carefully. Avoid harsh soaps, hot water, and other “cleansers” that may be harmful to your baby’s skin.
In fact, overzealous removal of vernix may strip the baby’s skin of the natural protective materials, putting him at risk of skin problems in the future.