Effect of delayed cord clamping on red blood cell alloimmunization: a retrospective cohort study

Am J Obstet Gynecol MFM. 2023 Nov;5(11):101165. doi: 10.1016/j.ajogmf.2023.101165. Epub 2023 Sep 20.


Background: Although delayed cord clamping has well-known benefits for preterm and term neonates, it has been inadequately assessed in alloimmunized neonates.

Objective: This study aimed to evaluate the benefits and risks of delayed cord clamping in alloimmunized neonates.

Study design: This was a retrospective comparative pre-post cohort study conducted from 2003 to 2018 in a tertiary care center in France. All living singleton neonates whose mothers were followed up for red blood cell alloimmunization during gestation and confirmed at birth (N=224) were included. Neonates were either exposed to immediate (n=125) or delayed cord clamping (n=99). Our main outcome was the time from birth to first exchange transfusions and/or transfusions. Secondary outcomes were hemoglobin level at birth, rate of exchange transfusion, number of postnatal transfusions, maximum bilirubin level, and number of phototherapy hours.

Results: Hemoglobin at birth was significantly higher in case of delayed cord clamping (mean difference, 1.7 g/dL; 95% confidence interval, 0.7-2.8). Among infants treated with exchange transfusion or transfusion, the time to initial treatment was higher in case of delayed cord clamping (median difference, 8 days; rate ratio, 1.51; 95% confidence interval, 1.09-2.10). There were no significant differences in the need for exchange transfusion, the number of transfusions, the maximum total bilirubin level, nor the number of phototherapy hours. In the subgroup analysis of neonates needing intrauterine transfusion during pregnancy (ie, severe alloimmunization), neonates had a lower rate of exchange transfusion in case of delayed cord clamping (odds ratio, 0.36; 95% confidence interval, 0.15-0.82).

Conclusion: Our results indicate a benefit of delayed cord clamping in alloimmunization, regardless of pathology severity, without increased risk of jaundice.

Keywords: Rhesus; delayed clamp cord; neonatal anemia; red blood cell alloimmunization; transfusion.

MeSH terms

  • Bilirubin
  • Cohort Studies
  • Erythrocytes
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature*
  • Pregnancy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Time Factors
  • Umbilical Cord Clamping*


  • Hemoglobins
  • Bilirubin