Delayed clamping of the umbilical cord benefits extremely premature newborns, a new study suggests.
In most cases, clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord occurs within 10 seconds of birth. But waiting longer to clamp offers a number of advantages to these smallest infants, according to Nationwide Children’s Hospital researchers.
“Infants born prior to 28 weeks’ gestation represent a high-risk subgroup, so efforts to improve outcomes remain critically important,” study author Dr. Carl Backes, a cardiologist and neonatologist at the Columbus, Ohio-based hospital, said in a Nationwide Children’s news release. “There is increasing evidence that delayed cord clamping may give infants in many categories a better chance.”
The investigators looked at 40 infants who were born between 22 and 27 weeks of pregnancy, and had an average birth weight of about 1.4 pounds.
Compared to those whose umbilical cords were immediately clamped, those whose cords were clamped 30 to 45 seconds after birth had higher blood pressure readings in the first 24 hours of life and required fewer red blood cell transfusions in the first 28 days of life, the findings showed.
Delayed clamping had no effect on the safety of an infant immediately after delivery, according to the study published online Sept. 24 in the Journal of Perinatology.
“Further research is needed in both of these infant populations to see whether the short-term benefits translate to reductions in long-term” health problems, Backes said. “The early results are promising, though.”
The U.S. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development has more about preterm labor and birth.