Colleagues from Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton have helped towards a global study revealing the benefits of delaying umbilical cord clamping for premature babies.
Together with her team, Professor Heike Rabe, an Honorary Consultant Neonatologist at University Hospitals Sussex NHS Foundation Trust and Professor of Perinatal Medicine at Brighton and Sussex Medical School, contributed data to the study, which is published in The Lancet.
She said: “Providing premature infants with an essential portion of their own placental blood is an inexpensive and simple method to improve their chances for survival.
“After decades of research on this topic it is great to see that in the future infants around the globe can have the chance for a better start into life.”
The research, which consists of two companion systematic reviews and meta-analyses,shows that waiting for two minutes or longer to clamp the umbilical cord of a premature baby likely reduces the risk of death soon after birth, compared with immediately clamping the cord or waiting a shorter time.
Deferring clamping of the umbilical cord allows blood to flow from the placenta to the baby whilst the baby’s lungs fill with air and is thought to potentially ease the transition into breathing and to potentially reduce the risk of iron deficiency in the infant.
While recommended routine practice for babies born at full term, previous research has been unclear on whether this practice is also beneficial for babies born prematurely, leading to varying recommendations in national and international guidelines.
Now, based on the evidence provided by Professor Rabe and other international experts, NHS England has recommended that a minimum one-minute wait before clamping and cutting the cord at the birth of premature infant is currently implemented as standard of care.
Maternity and neonatal clinicians in Kent, Surrey and Sussex are currently working on implementing this standard of care for all premature infants.
UHSussex recently released a new Research and Innovation Strategy, which sets out their five-year ambitions for healthcare research and innovation within the Trust and for the people of Sussex. This is in support of their vision of providing excellent care, every time for patients.
The strategy will empower colleagues across the Trust to build research and innovation into their careers and get them more active in research.