In December 2012, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published a Committee Opinion entitled "Timing of umbilical cord clamping after birth." It stated that "evidence exists to support delayed cord clamping in preterm infants, when feasible. The single most important benefit for preterm infants is the possibility for a nearly 50% reduction in IVH." However, the Committee Opinion added that the ideal timing of umbilical cord clamping has yet to be determined and recommended that large clinical trials be conducted in the most preterm infants. Published randomized controlled trials include <200 infants of <30 weeks' gestation, with assessments of neurodevelopmental outcome in less than one-half of the children. This is a major gap in the evidence. Without reliable data from randomized controlled trials that optimally include childhood follow-up evaluations, we will not know whether delayed cord clamping may do more overall harm than good. Ongoing trials of delayed cord clamping plan to report childhood outcomes in >2000 additional very preterm infants. Current recommendations may need to change when these results become available. Greater international collaboration could accelerate resolution of whether this promising intervention will improve disability-free survival in about 1 million infants who will be born very preterm globally each year.
Keywords: delayed cord clamping; placental transfusion; umbilical cord; very preterm infant.
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