We propose a study to see if umbilical cord milking (UCM) for those infants who need resuscitation is better than immediately clamping and cutting the umbilical cord at birth. We wonder if it will reduce death and/or admission to the NICU. In addition, we believe it may reduce developmental problems in survivors by two years of age. At birth, it is critical that an infant begins breathing quickly. The infant has to switch from relying on the placenta for oxygen to using its lungs for the first time. Worldwide each year, almost 10 million babies do not breathe immediately at birth, and about 6 million of these infants need resuscitation. The usual practice for infants who need resuscitation is to immediately clamp the umbilical cord. Animal studies show that clamping the cord before the baby breathes can cause the heart beat to slow and can decrease the amount of blood being pumped out of the heart each minute. This study will test whether infants will benefit from UCM. The cord will be quickly milked four times before cutting and will not delay the resuscitation procedures. This study is important because when there is need for resuscitation, neither UCM or delayed cord clamping, are recommended by national and international organizations due to lack of evidence. Yet, several large studies from around the world have identified that infants needing resuscitation are more likely to develop conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism and other developmental problems. The large amount of fetal blood left in the placenta after immediate cord clamping means that the baby gets less blood for the brain, lungs, and heart, which can contribute, to brain injury and even death. Cord milking at birth may help to protect these infants by increasing the transfer of blood volume. Our prior work has shown that, compared to immediate cord clamping, UCM results in better heart rate, blood pressure, less early anemia, and more oxygen in the brain. No harm from UCM has been noted in any studies. We will use a design in which each hospital will be randomly assigned to use either immediate cord clamping or UCM for any infant needing resuscitation over a period of 12 months. Then sites will change to the other method for an additional 12 months. Parents will be informed about the trial prenatally and invited to join after birth if their infant qualifies. This trial will involve 620 term newborns needing resuscitation at birth at eight (8) hospitals in San Diego, CA; La Mesa, CA; Loma Linda, CA; Davis, CA Washington, DC; and Canada. This trial will provide evidence to promote a change in guidelines supporting the use of UCM ? a simple, no-cost intervention as standard of care in term and near-term newborns needing resuscitation.

Public Health Relevance

Worldwide each year, almost 10 million babies do not breathe immediately at birth, about 6 million of these infants need resuscitation and the usual practice for newborns is to immediately clamp the umbilical cord. ?Milking? the umbilical cord, a method used to transfer blood from the placenta into the baby before the umbilical cord is clamped, may result in decreased need for admission to the NICU and/or death. This intervention may prevent some conditions or disabilities that have lifelong consequences.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD)
Research Project (R01)
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Study Section
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development Initial Review Group (CHHD)
Program Officer
Bremer, Andrew
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Sharp Memorial Hospital
San Diego
United States
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Katheria, Anup C (2018) Umbilical Cord Milking: A Review. Front Pediatr 6:335