Institute for Global Health


Exploratory study to guide the design of an emollients trial in Africa

exploratory study - hill

Dates: 2011 - 2014

Principal Investigator: Dr Zelee Hill

Partners: Maiduguri University Nigeria); Obafemi Awolowo University (Nigeria); Ifakara Health Institute (Tanzania); The Consultancy for Social Development (Ethiopia); University of California, San Francisco.

Location: Nigeria, Ethiopia, Tanzania

Funding: Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

Contact: z.hill@ucl.ac.uk

Project Summary 

Skin can serve as an important entry point for neonatal infections. Hospital trials have already shown that emollient use can reduce newborn infections and mortality in pre-term babies. Evidence is lacking about the effectiveness of emollients on newborn infections in community settings and on full-term babies. Community-based emollient trials are needed to establish if the positive results observed in hospitals can also be achieved in the home environment.

This study aims to collect data to inform the design of a community based trial to evaluate whether massaging babies with emollients can reduce neonatal deaths. For this trial to be feasible, acceptable, scalable and appropriately targeted, it must be based on an understanding of the local context. The study aims to use formative research methods to understand current skin care and massage practices, the acceptability of emollient use and potential distribution channels for any future product. The impact of commonly used emollients on skin integrity and function will also be explored as not all emollients are beneficial. 


Research Team
Dr Zelee Hill
Dr Jolene Skordis-Worrall




Randomised Controlled Trials
Child Health
Newborn Health
Infectious Diseases
Economic Evaluation



Further research