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Delaying clamping of umbilical cord can help save babies born prematurely: Study

Delaying the clamping of umbilical cord could mean the baby has more time to adapt outside the womb.

health Updated: Oct 31, 2017 16:09 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
Premature births are a major cause of infant deaths in India.
Premature births are a major cause of infant deaths in India.(Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Waiting for a minute before clamping the umbilical cord of a premature baby can reduce the risk of deaths by one third, say Australian doctors.

The University of Sydney reviewed 18 clinical trials involving 3000 babies born prematurely across the world. Pre-term births are defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as babies born before 37 weeks or 259 days of gestation since the first day of a woman’s last menstrual period. The normal gestation period is 40 weeks.

Professor Jonathan Morris of University of Sydney told ABC delayed clamping was standard practice in normal births as it helped babies adapt better once they were outside the womb.

“It means for every 20 babies born at less than 28 weeks that received delayed cord clamping, one extra baby would survive,” Morris said, adding that it is a simple, safe and effective intervention that could benefit almost every pre-term baby.

Dove Wiseman-Liversage was part of the study and delivered a healthy baby when she was 26 weeks pregnant. “It’s really amazing what science can do,” she said.

The simple technique could be effective for multiple reasons. According to Morris, like normal births, delaying the clamping of umbilical cord could mean the baby has more time to adapt. Or it could be because there’s extra blood in the baby’s system. “Or possibly, it’s affecting the baby’s resistance to infection because of an added transfusion of white blood cells,” the professor wondered.

The study will be published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, ABC reported.

About 15 million babies are born prematurely every year and pre-term complications were the leading cause of death among children under 5 years of age, according to WHO.

India has the highest number fatalities due to premature births, according to a study cited by The Hindu. The main causes of infant and child deaths are premature births, diseases that can be prevented with vaccination, inadequate maternal care among other reasons, said a report by the Ministry of Women and Child Development.

First Published: Oct 31, 2017 16:09 IST