Delayed umbilical clamping could save thousands of premature babies

Researchers have discovered a process that could save the lives of premature babies all over the world.
By Tracy Williams | Nov 01, 2017
Waiting to clamp an umbilical cord could help save the lives of ten of thousands premature babies, a new study set to be published in American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecologyreports.

This finding comes from a team of international researchers who reviewed 18 clinical trials that looked at nearly 3,000 babies born before 37 weeks' gestation. This revealed that waiting 60 seconds before clamping the umbilical cord after birth reduced the death risk for premature babies by nearly a third.

Delayed clamping used to be standard practice in full-term babies because it had been shown to help them better adapt to life outside of the womb. Now, scientists have evidence that it is beneficial to premature babies as well.

"It meant for every 20 babies born at less than 28 weeks that received delayed cord clamping, one extra baby would survive," said study co-author Jonathan Morris, a professor at the University of Sydney, according to ABC Online "This is such a significant finding because it's such a simple intervention."

Though researchers do not know for sure, they have a few theories as to why this process is so effective. One is that it could give babies more time to adapt to the world. Some also believe it works because there is extra blood in the baby's system, or that it could bolster the baby's resistance to infection.

In addition, most premature babies begin breathing on their own by 60 seconds. As a result, the delay may avoid unnecessary interventions, such as breathing tubes.

Whatever the cause, the new research could save thousands of newborns each year. Scientists hope to expand on the findings to further test the process and see if it can be put to use in the field.

"About 15 million babies are born before 37 weeks gestation annually and one million die, said study co-author Roger Soll, a professor at the University of Vermont College of Medicine,in a statement. "This procedure costs nothing and will make a difference to families worldwide."

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