Letting mother nature work with medicine is a win for our earliest babies

A procedure that costs nothing and will save thousands of premature babies lives wins the 2018 Australian Trial of the Year

It may feel like an agonising lifetime in an emergency situation but a worldwide, Australian led study has shown that waiting 60 seconds before clamping a premature baby’s umbilical cord, rather than immediately as is common practise, will save thousands of newborn lives.

The Australian Placental Transfusion Study (APTS) is the largest ever randomised controlled trial of delayed cord clamping for premature infants.

Published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology, the review led by University of Sydney researchers, assessed morbidity and mortality outcomes from 18 trials around the world comparing delayed versus immediate cord clamping in nearly 3,000 babies born before 37 weeks’ gestation. It found clear evidence that delayed clamping reduced hospital mortality by a third and is safe for mothers and preterm infants.

"We estimate that for every thousand preterm babies born ten weeks early, delayed clamping will save up to 100 additional lives compared with immediate clamping,” said the University of Sydney’s Associate Professor David Osborn, the review’s lead author and a neonatal specialist at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital. “This means that, worldwide, using delayed clamping instead of immediate clamping can be expected to save between 11,000 and 100,000 additional lives every year.”

The University of Sydney’s Professor Jonathan Morris, co-author of the Australian Placental Transfusion Study said: “This is so significant as it is such a simple technique, suitable for almost all preterm babies that helps saves lives”.

Co-author of the Australian Placental Transfusion Study, Professor Roger Soll of the University of Vermont College of Medicine, added “About 15 million babies are born before 37 weeks gestation annually and one million die. This procedure costs nothing and will make a difference to families worldwide."

Ahead of International Clinical Trials Day on Sunday 20 May 2018, the Australian Placental Transfusion Study was awarded as this year’s AUSTRALIAN TRIAL OF THE YEAR by Federal Health Minister, the Hon Greg Hunt, MP. The award was accepted by senior author, University of Sydney’s Professor William Tarnow-Mordi.

Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA) Chair, Professor John Zalcberg commented “ACTA is delighted to honour the APTS trial investigators and coordinators with this award. The trial is of exceptional standard, addresses a critical gap in evidence, and will significantly improve premature infant health outcomes.”

As the mother of three babies born premature, including one at 27 weeks (pictured), and an Honorary Research Associate with the School of Medicine at the University of Sydney, it was an honour to be invited to be a part of the award acceptance. This outcome is so important - by waiting a minute, mother nature can assist medicine to make a lifechanging difference to so many families worldwide.

Congratulations to the extraordinary contribution of all involved in this winning trial!


Downloadable File: Delayed vs early umbilical cord clamping for preterm infants: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Melinda Cruz, Founder, Miracle Babies Foundation



Extra Notes

Parents who want to know more are encouraged to visit the NHMRC Clinical Trials Centre or Miracle Babies Foundation for Frequently Asked Questions about the Australian Placental Transfusion Study. Parents in Australia who need support can contact Miracle Babies Foundation 24 hour helpline on 1300 622 243. A link to the study is provided


The Hon Greg Hunt MP, Minister for Health, announced the 2018 ACTA Trial of the Year at the Clinical Trials National Tribute and Awards ceremony on Wednesday 16 May 2018. This event was held by Australian Clinical Trials Alliance (ACTA) together with the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), Medicines Australia, MTPConnect, Bellberry and supported by Research Australia, MTAA and AusBiotech.


20 May is International Clinical Trials Day. The day celebrates the anniversary of the first clinical trial by James Lind in 1747 into the causes of scurvy on board the HMS Salisbury. His trial consisted of just 12 men, grouped into pairs and given a variety of dietary supplements from cider to oranges and lemons. The trial only lasted six days but, within that time, there was a noticeable improvement in the group eating the fruit, providing Lind with the evidence required of the link between citrus fruits and scurvy.



Melinda Cruz

CEO, Founder & Board Director at Miracle Babies Foundation

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