More and more, science is revealing that the first moments of life can influence a child for the rest of his or her life. This was evident in new guidance from the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), which now recommends doctors wait 30 to 60 seconds before cutting a newborn baby’s umbilical cord — a practice known as delayed cord clamping — based on studies that showed the practice leads to benefits such as increased blood volume and improved brain development.
Among the research helping to drive this guidance were studies at Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women & Newborns. The hospital’s Neonatal Research Institute (NRI) previously looked at the health effects of both delayed cord clamping and umbilical cord milking, a technique that involves gently squeezing blood through the umbilical cord toward a baby before the cord is cut. The results suggest cord milking may be the more promising of the two techniques.
“Our research showed that umbilical cord milking provided additional cord blood to babies at birth and improved heart, lung and brain function, particularly for vulnerable premature newborns,” says Dr. Anup Katheria, director of the Sharp Mary Birch NRI. “But a larger study with long-term outcomes is needed to validate these results.”
A $2.9 million research grant from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Child Health and Human Development announced this week could do just that. The grant will expand the NRI’s prior research with the aim of demonstrating that umbilical cord milking reduces brain bleeds and improves long-term neurological outcomes in premature babies.
The grant will fund a five-year study, with Sharp Mary Birch leading eight other sites, including international sites in Canada, Germany and Ireland. It is the first private U.S. hospital to lead a multicenter international trial.
“This will be the largest and most comprehensive study of its kind,” explains Dr. Katheria. “We’ll be following 1,500 children in four different countries up to the age of 2. If the results are positive, it will change how babies are delivered worldwide.”
Research reported in this publication was supported by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development of the National Institutes of Health, under Award Number R01HD088646. The content is solely the responsibility of the authors and does not necessarily represent the official views of the National Institutes of Health.
For the news media: To talk with Dr. Katheria about the $2.9 million federal research grant for an upcoming story, contact Erica Carlson, senior public relations specialist, at firstname.lastname@example.org.