New hope for asphyxic babies starts in the delivery room

Lead researcher

Dr Graeme Polglase

Main finding

The World Health Organisation estimates that between five and nine million babies are born asphyxic (with a lack of oxygen) every year, with one million of these infants dying. Those that survive have very high rates of brain injury, including cerebral palsy. Current international resuscitation guidelines recommend that all life support of asphyxic infants at birth should be initiated after the umbilical cord is clamped. Our study showed that if life support, including respiratory support, is administered prior to cord clamping, then cardiac output and blood pressure were better controlled which protected the brain from very high pressure and blood flow, resulting in reduced bleeding.


The Ritchie Centre

Research group

Perinatal Transition Research Group


Blank DA, Barton SK, Miller SL, Stojanovska V, Kluckow M, Gill AW, LaRosa D, Te Pas AB and Hooper SB

Journal and article title

Most surprising

This was the first study to demonstrate that the initial resuscitation of asphyxic/hypoxic infants can be conducted on the umbilical cord, and in fact, it actually infers benefits including reduced brain injury, compared to the current guideline recommendations.

Future implications

The findings of this research have implications for the initial treatment of infants in the delivery room worldwide, particularly in developing nations, where the majority of infant deaths from asphyxia occur every year.

Disease/health impact

Perinatal Brain Injury