Delayed Cord Cutting

Title: Delayed Cord Cutting.


Waiting two minutes to cut cord ‘can give babies health boost’


A brief delay in cutting a newborn baby’s umbilical cord can significantly improve a child’s health, a new study reveals. Waiting just two minutes before severing the cord can halve the risk of serious blood disorders and have an ‘important impact’, on a baby’s wellbeing. The major study, involving more than 1,900 newborns, found the two-minute delay was enough to reduce the risk of anaemia by half and low iron levels in the blood by a third.  Most British babies have their umbilical cords cut immediately after birth.  However, between ten and 20 per cent of women already ask for the procedure to be delayed for health reasons.  The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, will add weight to the theory that delaying is best for the baby.  Eileen Hutton, assistant dean of midwifery at McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, who carried out the research, said: ‘The results of our study clearly show this reduces the incidence of anaemia and improves iron stores in newborns. And, more importantly, these benefits extend beyond the early neonatal period.’ During pregnancy, the unborn baby’s blood circulates through the umbilical cord and the placenta – the temporary organ attached to the lining of the mother’s womb that provides the baby with everything it needs.  Delaying clamping and cutting the umbilical cord is thought to increase the newborn’s blood volume by up to 30 per cent, by allowing the blood in the placenta to flow into the baby.  Medical experts have been divided over the best time to cut the cord, and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists say there is no formal guidance for doctors and midwives about the best time to clamp. Anaemia – a shortage of oxygen-carrying haemoglobin in the blood that causes paleness, tiredness, shortness of breath and can affect brain development – is relatively rare in British babies. And delayed clamping has previously been linked to an increased risk of jaundice, which in serious cases can harm the baby and affect the brain.  In the study, 15 previous trials on cord clamping were analysed from 11 countries. About half of babies had immediate cord clamping, while the rest had their cords clamped between two and three minutes after birth.  Although the researchers looked for health risks associated with the practice, the only one they found was an increased risk of polycythemia – an overproduction of red blood cells – but this appeared to pose no danger to a baby’s health. The researchers said: ‘Late clamping of the umbilical cord is an inexpensive way of enhancing blood status, preventing anaemia over the first three months of life and enriching iron stores for as long as six months.  ‘Although this is of particular importance for developing countries in which anaemia during infancy and childbirth is highly prevalent, it is likely to have an important impact on all newborns.’  But Patrick O’Brien, a consultant obstetrician at University College Hospital, London, said any benefits of delayed clamping were likely to be slim.  He said: ‘Delayed clamping of the umbilical cord isn’t widely used in our practice.  Until now, the advantages and disadvantages of delayed clamping have been evenly balanced although it is definitely beneficial if the baby is at risk of being anaemic. However, in general, any benefits are probably fairly marginal.’



Any views or opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not represent those of The Federation of Antenatal Educators (FEDANT) unless specifically stated.

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