A newly funded study is set to determine whether waiting two minutes to clamp a newborn's umbilical cord after delivery could improve how well he or she recovers from corrective heart surgery.
Most physicians typically clamp and cut the umbilical cord immediately following delivery. Some physicians advocate for delaying the clamping of the baby's umbilical cord, thereby increasing the flow of blood from the placenta to the child. The practice of delayed umbilical cord clamping has been shown to improve hematocrit levels, leading to an increased number of oxygen-carrying red blood cells throughout the body.
Hematocrit levels are an important factor during surgery and blood transfusions are often required to replace blood lost during complicated procedures. This is especially true in children with critical congenital heart disease.
"Babies born with critical congenital heart disease often require multiple blood transfusions during corrective heart surgery due to the complexity of the surgery and the babies' small size," said Carl Backes, Jr., MD, Neonatology fellow at Nationwide Children's Hospital. "However, data suggests that surgical outcomes are improved when fewer blood transfusions are performed."
A $125,000, two-year grant from the American Heart Association will allow Dr. Backes to examine whether delayed umbilical cord clamping could have a positive impact on surgical outcomes.
"We suspect that delayed umbilical cord clamping following delivery will decrease the need for blood transfusions in this at-risk population," said Dr. Backes. "Given the growing body of evidence suggesting that blood transfusions during or after cardiac surgery is associated with acute and delayed adverse effects, we hope to evaluate the potential role for adding delayed cord clamping to existing blood conservation programs at Nationwide Children's Hospital."