[back] Cord Clamping
clamp delay 'good for babies'
A 30-SECOND delay in clamping a
premature newborn's umbilical cord protects against bleeding in
the brain and infection, groundbreaking new research shows.
The study, involving 72 babies, could prompt a reassessment of
the standard practice of clamping immediately after birth.
Delayed clamping has been shown to increase the volume of
blood transferred to the baby from the placenta.
Researchers from the University of Rhode Island, in the U.S.,
followed 36 babies assigned to immediate cord clamping and 36
assigned to delayed cord clamping.
All were less than 32 weeks' gestation. Their prematurity
meant they were at increased risk of brain haemorrhage and
infection. In the weeks after birth, 36 per cent of the
immediate group had suffered bleeding in the brain, compared
with 14 per cent of the delayed group.
Nine of the immediate group and none of the delayed group
developed infections while in intensive care.
"It may be that the small amounts of additional blood preterm
infants obtain by delaying cord clamping helps to stabilise
cerebral blood flow and provide additional stem cells to
establish adequate immunocompetence," the report in this month's
American Pediatrics journal says.
A similar study involving full-term newborns is planned. A
South American study published in the same edition of the
journal shows blood iron levels increased in babies whose cords
were clamped up to three minutes after birth.
The director of neo-natal intensive care at Flinders Medical
Centre, Associate Professor Peter Marshall, said several small
studies had pointed to the benefits of delayed cord clamping,
but practices were unlikely to change without the definitive
He said delaying clamping was "probably going to turn out to
be important" in premature babies, but was not always possible.
Adelaide obstetrician Dr Chris Hughes, spokesman for the
Royal Australian College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists,
said the findings needed to be reproduced, but such studies
would be watched with interest.