Doctors clamp and cut a baby’s umbilical cord too soon, according to a new study published on Wednesday. The standard practice in many countries has been to clamp and cut the umbilical cord within a minute of an infant’s birth.
While the practice is thought to reduce the risk of maternal hemorrhaging, a new study suggests that delaying clamping for at least a minute will improve iron stores and hemoglobin levels in newborns.
The study adds that delaying cutting the umbilical cord doesn’t increase the risk to mothers. The timing of the procedure has been controversial for years, with some saying that clamping is done too quickly.
Despite the controversial nature, the new study appears to be adding to a substantial amount of evidence showing that clamping and cutting the umbilical cord happens too quickly.
The new paper was published on Wednesday in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews. While it has the potential to change minds, that change will likely take time. The research was led by Dr. Susan Mcdonald, professor of midwifery at La Trobe University/Mercy Hospital for Women, Melbourne. She wrote in the study:
“A more liberal approach to delaying clamping of the umbilical cord in healthy term infants appears to be warranted, particularly in light of growing evidence that delayed cord clamping may be of benefit in the longer term.”
The study showed that newborns whose umbilical cords were clamped later had higher hemoglobin levels 24 to 48 hours after birth. They were also less likely to be iron deficient three to six months after birth. Birth weight was also higher on average, partially because babies can receive more blood from their mothers.
The analysis also found that delayed clamping doesn’t increase the risk of severe postpartum hemorrhage, blood loss, or reduced hemoglobin in the baby’s mother.
The World Health Organization already recommends clamping and cutting the umbilical cord between one and three minutes because of iron. Delaying clamping can sometimes lead to jaundice in the baby, caused by either liver trouble or an excessive loss of blood cells. Therefore, the WHO also recommends access to therapy for jaundice, just in case.
With the most recent study, would you consider asking your doctor to delay clamping and cutting the umbilical cord of your newborn?
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