The ongoing discussion regarding the perfect time to clamp a newborn's umbilical cord has recently been heating up. While some people think it's best to clamp it right away, a new study from The University of Sydney may have the final word, since its results show that delaying clamping by just 60 seconds can save premature babies' lives.
Holding off on clamping a little one's umbilical cord can have huge advantages, especially when it comes to preemies, because the longer a newborn can reap the benefits of placental transfusion with his mother, the better. And while preterm kiddos definitely benefit the most, a study published in January by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists' Committee on Obstetric Practice says that infants carried to term who waited 30 to 60 seconds to have their cord clamped had better circulation and a higher count of red blood cells, among other benefits.
The new research looked at 3,000 premature babies (those born before 37 weeks gestation) and ran 18 trials to see if there was a difference between babies who had their cords clamped immediately after birth and those who were delayed by a full minute. The conclusion? Babies who waited 60 seconds to get clamped had a hospital mortality rate one-third lower than those who got it clamped ASAP.
Given how many babies are born prematurely each year (nearly one in 10 babies in the US each year!), this is big news. "We estimate that for every thousand very preterm babies born more than ten weeks early, delayed clamping will save up to 100 additional lives compared with immediate clamping," explained David Osborn, the University of Sydney's Associate Professor and the review's lead author. "This means that, worldwide, using delayed clamping instead of immediate clamping can be expected to save between 11,000 and 100,000 additional lives every year."