Trial shows delayed cord clamping difference

By Rob Clancy, staff writer

Small changes can sometimes have big impacts – just ask Drs Doug Blank and Shiraz Badurdeen. Their clinical trial of delayed cord clamping proved that a simple change to the way newborn babies are handled can make a huge difference to their lives.

Dr Doug Blank's, Professor Graeme Polglase's, Professor Stuart Hooper's clinical trial proved that delayed cord clamping for newborn babies can make a difference to their lives.
L–R: Dr Doug Blank, Professor Graeme Polglase, Professor Stuart Hooper

It builds on groundbreaking research being carried out at Hudson Institute by Professor Stuart Hooper and Professor Graeme Polglase, who first demonstrated the benefits of delaying cord clamping in 2013.

Dangers of birth asphyxia

Up to one in 10 newborns struggle to take their first breath and the traditional way of dealing with this problem is to take the baby away to a respirator or other equipment.

“That means cutting the umbilical cord and separating the baby from the mother and the placenta that has been providing all its oxygen and nutrients for months,” Dr Blank said.

“If the baby doesn’t breathe after birth and the umbilical cord is clamped or cut, there is no oxygen going to the baby until the doctors and nurses are able to successfully push air into the baby’s lungs.

“That process often takes over two to three minutes.”

The dangers of birth asphyxia (oxygen starvation) in these circumstances are well known and can include serious and life-changing conditions such as cerebral palsy.

Clinical trial shows benefits of delaying cord clamping

“With delayed cord clamping we bring the equipment to the baby, so it can remain connected to the placenta and there will still be a supply of oxygen to support it before it can breathe on its own,” Dr Blank said.

“This process is free, available to everyone, worldwide, and takes advantage of a previously ignored resource, the placenta.”

The research and clinical trial, published in PLOS Medicine, bridges the gap across the umbilical cord between the obstetrician and the paediatrician – encouraging the two providers to stand shoulder-to-shoulder to improve the care of newborns.

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