KJZZ is a service of Rio Salado College,
and Maricopa Community Colleges

Copyright © 2024 KJZZ/Rio Salado College/MCCCD
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Major studies suggest delayed cord clamping could save preemie lives

Increasingly, childbirth experts endorse waiting a minute or two before clamping umbilical cords.

But other complications make that timing less clear in premature births.

Now, two meta-analyses of 60 studies and almost 10,000 births published in the Lancet find waiting at least two minutes before clamping umbilical cords reduces the risk of death in premature babies by two-thirds.

The first looked at randomized controlled trials from high-income and middle-income countries and compared immediate clamping to delays ranging from 30 seconds to more than 180 seconds.

The second split clamping delays into three groups to gauge the most beneficial delay length: short deferral (15–45 seconds), medium deferral (45–120 seconds) and long deferral (120 seconds or more).

The authors hypothesize the delay lets blood flow from the placenta to the baby while it begins breathing and lowers iron deficiency.

However, the newborn must be kept warm to avoid hypothermia.

More research is needed, and the results might not apply in low-income settings, or to babies who need resuscitation.

Data from the Arizona health department shows premature babies are more likely to need intensive care than those with low birth weight.

Nicholas Gerbis was a senior field correspondent for KJZZ from 2016 to 2024.