Delayed cord clamping in red blood cell alloimmunization: safe, effective, and free?
Hemolytic disease of the newborn (HDN), an alloimmune disorder due to maternal and fetal blood type incompatibility, is associated with fetal and neonatal complications related to red blood cell (RBC) hemolysis. After delivery, without placental clearance, neonatal hyperbilirubinemia may develop from ongoing maternal antibody-mediated RBC hemolysis. In cases refractory to intensive phototherapy treatment, exchange transfusions (ET) may be performed to prevent central nervous system damage by reducing circulating bilirubin levels and to replace antibody-coated red blood cells with antigen-negative RBCs. The risks and costs of treating HDN are significant, but appear to be decreased by delayed umbilical cord clamping at birth, a strategy that promotes placental transfusion to the newborn. Compared to immediate cord clamping (ICC), safe and beneficial short-term outcomes have been demonstrated in preterm and term neonates receiving delayed cord clamping (DCC), a practice that may potentially be effective in cases RBC alloimmunization.