Calgary invention gives premature babies better start to life

WATCH ABOVE: Premature babies often come into this world needing immediate medical care, but they're also still receiving vital nutrients from mom. Cutting the cord too quickly isn't good for baby and now with a made in Alberta solution, the doctor won’t have to.

CALGARY – A portable resuscitation station developed by researchers at Calgary’s Foothills Medical Centre is helping pre-term infants receive the medical attention they need while they remain connected to their umbilical cord.

“The process of delayed cord clamping allows babies to receive blood from their placentas at the time of birth,” explained Dr. Sumesh Thomas, medical director of neonatology at Foothills.

Studies show remaining connected to the umbilical for one to three minutes after birth reduces the risk of bleeding in the brain by 50 per cent.  As a result, the standard of care for healthy newborns is now to wait at least one minute after birth before cutting the cord, but infants born prematurely often need immediate medical care.

“In clinical practice, babies that are the most vulnerable because they had to be delivered early are the one most unlikely to receive delayed cord clamping,” said Dr. Thomas.

INSPIRE (Integrated Neonatal Support with Placental Transfusion and Resuscitation) is a battery-powered device that includes a scale, oxygen tanks, resuscitation equipment and blood oxygen monitors. The unit is portable and can be placed right beside a delivering mom. That way, infants can receive care immediately after birth while they remain connected to the placenta via the umbilical cord.

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The device is the first of its kind in Canada and been used to help resuscitate and offer delayed cord clamping to six pre-term infants since it was introduced in May.

Jasmina Stewart said she was grateful the device was available for her daughter when Anastasia was born at 30 weeks last July.

“Her being born just over three pounds was a very scary thing, but  we are very happy to have had this option, and we believe it should be an option for everybody.”

A large-scale study to further evaluate the benefits of the INSPIRE device is currently being planned.