Conference Coverage

Umbilical cord milking tied to severe IVH in very premature neonates

Delayed cord clamping and cutting is safer



– Umbilical cord milking can cause severe intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) in very premature neonates and should not be performed on these cerebrovascularly fragile premature babies.

Dr. Michael W. Varner, University of Utah, Salt Lake City Michele G. Sullivan/MDedge News

Dr. Michael W. Varner

Just six of these procedures would be needed to cause a case of severe IVH in neonates born at 23-27 weeks’ gestation, Michael W. Varner, MD, said at the meeting sponsored by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine.

“Centers practicing umbilical cord milking should consider discontinuing this practice in infants 23-27 weeks’ gestation,” said Dr. Varner of the University of Utah, Salt Lake City.

The damage to the brains of very young preemies appears to be a direct result of the fluid overload caused by milking, he said. “From a mechanistic perspective, we can intuit that these findings are consistent with cord milking. This causes increasing venous return to the right atrium where it enters the foramen ovale and aorta. These very premature babies have more pulmonary vasoconstriction, which shunts more blood toward the brain. This results in fluctuations in flow in an immature brain with fragile germinal matrices and perhaps further compromised by chorioamnionitis inflammation, resulting in IVH.”

Premature Infants Receiving Milking or Delayed Cord Clamping (PREMOD2) was a noninferiority trial of umbilical cord milking compared to delayed cord clamping and cutting in preterm infants. Conducted at 11 sites in the United States and Europe, the study was halted prematurely when the data safety monitoring board determined that cord milking increased the risk of IVH in younger preemies and was no better than delayed cutting in the older preemies. The analysis presented at the meeting is the first public discussion of the data details.

The trial involved 474 premature neonates. They were randomized to placental transfusion via a 60-second delay in cord clamping and cutting or to umbilical cord milking, which involved grasping the cord and manually pushing the cord blood toward the infant four times before clamping. All participating sites received a video demonstrating the proper procedure. The cohort also was divided by gestational age: 23-27 weeks and 28-31 weeks.

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