Objective: This study aimed to assess potential benefits of umbilical cord milking (UCM) when compared with immediate cord clamping (ICC) in extremely preterm infants.
Study design: This is a single-center, randomized controlled trial of infants 240/7 to 276/7 weeks’ gestation who received UCM versus ICC. In the experimental group, 18 cm of the umbilical cord was milked three times. The primary aim was to assess the initial hemoglobin and to assess the number of blood transfusions received in the first 28 days after birth. Secondary outcomes were also assessed, including intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH). A priori, neurodevelopmental follow-up was planned at 15 to 18 months corrected gestational age (CGA).
Results: Baseline characteristics for 56 enrolled infants were similar in both groups with a mean gestational age of 26.1 ± 1.2 weeks and a mean birth weight of 815 ± 204 g. There were no differences in the mean initial hemoglobin in the UCM group when compared with the ICC group, 13.7 ± 2.0 and 13.8 ± 2.6 g/dL, respectively (p = 0.95), with no differences in median number of blood transfusions after birth between the ICC group and the UCM group, 2 (interquartile range [IQR]: 1-4) versus 2.5 (IQR: 1-5) (p = 0.40). There was also no difference in the rate of severe IVH. At 15 to 18 months CGA, there were no differences in death or disability in the ICC group compared with the UCM group (26 vs. 22%; p = 1.0) and no differences in neurodevelopmental outcomes.
Conclusion: In a randomized trial of ICC versus UCM in extremely preterm infants, no differences were seen in initial hemoglobin or number of blood transfusions.