Oxygen saturation and heart rate in healthy term and late preterm infants with delayed cord clamping

Pediatr Res. 2022 Jan 7. doi: 10.1038/s41390-021-01805-y. Online ahead of print.


Blood oxygen in the fetus is substantially lower than in the newborn infant. In the minutes after birth, arterial oxygen saturation rises from around 50-60% to 90-95%. Initial respiratory efforts generate negative trans-thoracic pressures that drive liquid from the airways into the lung interstitium facilitating lung aeration, blood oxygenation, and pulmonary artery vasodilatation. Consequently, intra- (foramen ovale) and extra-cardiac (ductus arteriosus) shunting changes and the sequential circulation switches to a parallel pulmonary and systemic circulation. Delaying cord clamping preserves blood flow through the ascending vena cava, thus increasing right and left ventricular preload. Recently published reference ranges have suggested that delayed cord clamping positively influenced the fetal-to-neonatal transition. Oxygen saturation in babies with delayed cord clamping plateaus significantly earlier to values of 85-90% than in babies with immediate cord clamping. Delayed cord clamping may also contribute to fewer episodes of brady-or-tachycardia in the first minutes after birth, but data from randomized trials are awaited. IMPACT: Delaying cord clamping during fetal to neonatal transition contributes to a significantly earlier plateauing of oxygen saturation and fewer episodes of brady-and/or-tachycardia in the first minutes after birth. We provide updated information regarding the changes in SpO2 and HR during postnatal adaptation of term and late preterm infants receiving delayed compared with immediate cord clamping. Nomograms in newborn infants with delayed cord clamping will provide valuable reference ranges to establish target SpO2 and HR in the first minutes after birth.

Publication types

  • Review