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Delayed cord clamping during elective cesarean deliveries: results of a pilot safety trial



Delayed cord clamping (DCC) results in decreased iron deficiency in infancy. The American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology has called for research on the optimal time to clamp the cord during cesarean deliveries (CD). Our objective was to conduct a pilot trial examining the safety of delayed cord clamping (DCC) for maternal-infant dyads during elective cesarean delivery (CD).


We enrolled 39 dyads [23 at 90 s, 16 at 120 s; (DCC Pilot)] between 10/2013 and 9/2014. We abstracted data from the electronic medical record (EMR) for historical controls (HC) birthing between 1/2012-6/2013 for whom DCC was not performed (n = 112).


Available data for 37 mothers and 30 infants compared to HC revealed 174 (95% CI: 61-286) mL lower mean estimated maternal blood loss [(EBL) mean (SD) mL]: DCC Pilot 691(218) vs. HC 864(442), p = 0.003 and lower incidence of maternal transfusions, DCC Pilot 2.7% vs. HC 18.8%, p = 0.016. There was no significant between group difference between DCC Pilot and HC in other a priori definitions of excess maternal blood loss: a) EBL > 800 ml, 21.6% vs. 38.8%, p = 0.07 or b) post-op hgb/pre-op hgb < 80%, 16.7% vs. 20.6%, p = 0.81. There were also no statistically significant between group differences in rates of NICU admission DCC Pilot 8.1% vs. HC 7.1%, p = 1.0., but there was a higher rate of newborn cold stress or hypothermia ≤36.2 °C in study subjects, DCC Pilot 27.0% vs. HC 11.9%, p = 0.038.Prevalence of newborn anemia was decreased [DCC pilot 3.3% (1 of 30) vs. HC 40.0% (4 of 10 infants with data), p = 0.012. No infants were polycythemic.


These pilot data suggest cord clamping can be delayed to 120 s during elective CD without increased risk of excessive maternal blood loss. More aggressive prevention of infant heat loss may be warranted. A randomized trial to evaluate long-term maternal and infant outcomes is indicated.

Trial registration

Clinical, NCT02229162; registered: 1 September, 2014.

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