A recent study funded by the National Institutes of Health suggests that umbilical cord milking may be a safe option for preterm infants born after 28 weeks. Umbilical cord milking involves gently squeezing the cord to push blood into the newborn’s abdomen, providing rapid support. Previous concerns about the risk of bleeding in the brain associated with cord milking do not seem to apply to preterm infants born after 28 weeks.
The standard procedure of delaying cord clamping takes 30 to 180 seconds, while cord milking only takes about 20 seconds, reducing delays for infants in need of immediate assistance. Both cord milking and delayed cord clamping allow for umbilical cord blood to reach the infant’s body before clamping, reducing the risk of complications.
The study, conducted by researchers from the United States, Canada, and Europe, randomly assigned over 1,000 infants to either cord milking or delayed cord clamping. Rates of severe intraventricular hemorrhage (bleeding inside the brain) and/or death did not differ significantly between the two groups. Rates of overall intraventricular hemorrhage were also similar between the two groups.
The infants in the study will be followed for two years to observe longer-term outcomes. Nahida Chakhtoura, M.D., chief of the NICHD Pregnancy and Perinatology Branch, is available for comment on the study. The study was published in Pediatrics and is titled “Umbilical Cord Milking versus Delayed Cord Clamping in Infants 28-32 weeks: A Randomized Trial.”
The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) leads the research and training in understanding human development and improving reproductive health. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting medical research, aiming to investigate the causes, treatments, and cures for various diseases.