Kiwi mum claims simple technique saved premature baby's life

New Zealand hospitals are adopting a simple technique that could save the lives of premature babies.

A recent Australasian study found that delaying the 'cutting' of a baby's umbilical cord by just one minute can be lifesaving.

Auckland toddler Daisy Salter is a thriving two-year-old - a remarkable achievement given she arrived when mum Katie was only 23 weeks pregnant.

Ms Salter was one of 1600 mothers who took part in a study that looked at the benefits of delaying umbilical cord clamping in pre-term babies.

When Daisy arrived by caesarean section, her parents faced an agonising wait.

"That was probably the longest 60 seconds of our lives," Ms Salter says. "I couldn't see her because I was lying on the op table."

But she believes those 60 seconds are why Daisy is thriving today.

That's now backed up by evidence from an award-winning clinical trial that involved Kiwi researchers such as Dr Katie Groom from the Liggins Insitute.

"We had a question that we didn't know the answer to: should we clamp the cord as soon as born to hand over to paediatrician, or should we give the baby a bit more time?" she says.

Conventionally, pre-term babies are clamped immediately. But this study found that the risk of a premature baby dying was reduced by 30 percent if they delayed clamping by just one minute.

This allows more blood to be pumped from the placenta, letting the baby breathe on its own.

"It was quite enlightening to see these really premature babies taking their own breath and starting to move and responding really well," Dr Groom says.

This isn't the first study to reach this conclusion, but it's the largest - and Dr Groom says it's already becoming standard practice in New Zealand.

It's an easy intervention that costs nothing and could save hundreds of lives.