A study published in the July 2015 issue of Pediatrics showed that, among preterm infants delivered via cesarean section those who received umbilical cord milking had improved measures of circulation, higher blood pressure and higher levels of red blood cells, according to an article in the National Institutes of Health’s Research Matters Web page.
Cord milking involves grasping the umbilical cord, gently squeezing and slowly pushing blood through the cord toward the infant several times to infuse blood into the baby before clamping, the NIH article stated.
The study, led by Anup C. Katheria, MD, at the Sharp Mary Birch Hospital for Women and Newborns in San Diego, looked at 197 mothers who went into labor at or before the 32nd week of pregnancy. Of the 154 infants delivered via C-section, 75 were randomly assigned to umbilical cord milking and 79 to delayed clamping.
The study also included 43 infants delivered vaginally, with no difference being found among those babies between cord milking and delayed clamping.
Delayed clamping of preterm infants was recommended in 2012 by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and is said to allow enough time for the umbilical cord to fill the blood vessels in the lungs, the NIH said. The ACOG’s recommendation was a 30- to 60-second delay before umbilical cord clamping in preterm deliveries, according to the report.
The study was supported by NIH’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
“The study results are very encouraging,” Tonse Raju, MD, chief of the NICHD’s pregnancy and perinatology branch, said in the article. “The findings need to be confirmed in a larger number of births, but at this point, it appears that umbilical cord milking may prove to be of great benefit to preterm infants delivered via cesarean.”
Reports on both studies are available at http://www.nih.gov/researchmatters/index.htm.