Why You Might Want to Ask Your Doctor to Wait Before Cutting Baby’s Cord

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Updated February 28, 2017
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Though it’s been a hot topic for years, new research may seriously influence how long you and your partner wait before cutting baby’s umbilical cord.

A new study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics found that while there’s no different in IQ, children whose cords were cut more than three minutes after birth had slightly higher fine motor and social skills than those cut within 10 seconds.

“There is growing evidence from a number of studies that all infants, those born at term and those born early, benefit from receiving extra blood from the placenta at birth,” neonatologist Heike Rabe, MD, tells NPR.

As he explains in his editoral, this study is one of the first to look at the benefits of delayed cord clamping past infancy. We already know that the higher levels of iron baby receives from this extra blood boost brain development and function during infancy.

Previous analysis from The Cochrane Database of Systematic Review found that delaying the clamping of baby’s umbilical cord for at least one minute after birth will significantly improves baby’s iron stores and hemoglobin levels. The delay, researchers found, poses no risk of blood loss, reduced hemoglobin levels or postpartum hemorrhage to moms.

Before siding with the skeptics, researchers found that the benefits for baby are unbelievably important. Newborns with later clamping, they noted, had higher hemoglobin levels 24 to 48 hours after delivery and were less likely to be iron-deficient three to six months later. Baby’s birth weight was also higher on average (compared to baby’s who had their cords cut immediately following birth), which was due to the fact that they were able to receive more blood from their mothers.

Currently, the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends clamping the cord after one to three minutes because it “improves the iron status of the infant.” However, they note that delayed clamping can lead to jaundice in newborns, which is caused by liver troubles and an excessive loss of red blood cells.

On the flip side, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) cites insufficient research as reason not to change the United States’ longstanding practice of immediately cutting the cord.

“As evidence of the safety and benefits of delayed [cord clamping] are demonstrated, this hesitation should disappear,” Rabe writes.

Do you think you would wait to cut baby’s cord?

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

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