Waiting just a few more seconds after birth to clamp the umbilical cord of a preterm newborn could save the baby’s life.
According to the research, nine percent of babies whose cords were clamped immediately, died, but only 6.4 percent of babies whose cords were clamped after 60 seconds, died.
With about 15 million babies born early each year, the study’s authors estimate the practice could save as many as 100,000 additional lives annually.
The WHO already recommends that the optimal time to clamp the umbilical cord of any baby is one minute after birth, but this study is the first to provide a large sample of data proving that the practice crucial health benefits for preterm babies.
Dr Haywood Brown, a Duke University maternal-fetal health specialist and president of the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology (ACOG) says that ‘delayed cord clamping clearly benefits the infant – born at term and preterm – but greatest benefits are for preterm infants.’
The Australian study, which has been approved to be published in a forthcoming issue of the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, analyzed data on nearly 3,000 births that took place before 37 weeks of pregnancy in 18 clinical trials, according to Daily Mail.
The researchers found that about 9 percent of preterm newborns died when the umbilical cord was clamped immediately after birth.
By comparison, only 6.4 percent of premature babies whose cords were clamped after one minute died, a reduction of almost one third.
Dr Brown says that ACOG recommends that the cord is clamped between 30 and 60 seconds after birth.
‘Data would probably suggest that there is no greater benefit after about 60 seconds,’ he says.
‘Basically, once the baby starts taking its first breaths,’ usually within the first minute after birth, ‘the lungs take over, the circulation changes and the amount of blood transferred through the cord really diminishes’ he says.
The study’s authors underscored the importance of adhering to the WHO’s guidelines on umbilical cord clamping in light of their findings.
‘This is so significant as it is such a simple technique, suitable for almost all preterm babies that helps saves lives,’ study co-author and University of Sydney professor Jonathan Morris told MedicalXpress.
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