Delaying umbilical cord severing could be beneficial for newborns

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Usually doctors cut the cord clamp and sever the umbilical cord of newborns within a minute of birth. It is a practice which is meant to reduce the risk of maternal hemorrhaging. However, new information suggests that there are benefits in delaying the clamping for at least a minute after birth.

A paper published Wednesday in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, based on a study analyzing data collected from 15 randomized trials involving 3,911 women and infant pairs, indicates that delaying cutting the cord allows for more blood to move from the placenta to the newborn. This resulted in increased birth weight in the newborns. The study also found that newborns with later clamping had higher hemoglobin levels one to two days postpartum, and were less likely to be iron-deficient three to six months after birth, when compared to babies who had immediate cord clamping. Further, the study found no evidence to suggest that delaying the process increased risks for the mothers.

However, not everyone is convinced by the report. A committee of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists finds that the new report is insufficient to confirm or refute the potential for benefits from delayed umbilical cord clamping in term infants, especially in settings with rich resources. They note that the risk of jaundice, as well as infrequency of iron deficiency in the United States, are reasons not to delay cord clamping.

ACSH s Dr. Gilbert Ross took note of the fairly solid, albeit observational data: This is a pretty convincing meta-analysis. I am no expert in Ob-Gyn certainly, but the logic here seems sound as do the data. I find the objections of the ACOG committee rather irrelevant and unconvincing.