Background: The preferred timing of umbilical-cord clamping in preterm infants is unclear.
Methods: We randomly assigned fetuses from women who were expected to deliver before 30 weeks of gestation to either immediate clamping of the umbilical cord (≤10 seconds after delivery) or delayed clamping (≥60 seconds after delivery). The primary composite outcome was death or major morbidity (defined as severe brain injury on postnatal ultrasonography, severe retinopathy of prematurity, necrotizing enterocolitis, or late-onset sepsis) by 36 weeks of postmenstrual age. Analyses were performed on an intention-to-treat basis, accounting for multiple births.
Results: Of 1634 fetuses that underwent randomization, 1566 were born alive before 30 weeks of gestation; of these, 782 were assigned to immediate cord clamping and 784 to delayed cord clamping. The median time between delivery and cord clamping was 5 seconds and 60 seconds in the respective groups. Complete data on the primary outcome were available for 1497 infants (95.6%). There was no significant difference in the incidence of the primary outcome between infants assigned to delayed clamping (37.0%) and those assigned to immediate clamping (37.2%) (relative risk, 1.00; 95% confidence interval, 0.88 to 1.13; P=0.96). The mortality was 6.4% in the delayed-clamping group and 9.0% in the immediate-clamping group (P=0.03 in unadjusted analyses; P=0.39 after post hoc adjustment for multiple secondary outcomes). There were no significant differences between the two groups in the incidences of chronic lung disease or other major morbidities.
Conclusions: Among preterm infants, delayed cord clamping did not result in a lower incidence of the combined outcome of death or major morbidity at 36 weeks of gestation than immediate cord clamping. (Funded by the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council [NHMRC] and the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre; APTS Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry number, ACTRN12610000633088 .).