It has long been established that, once a baby is born, the doctor will clamp down on the umbilical cord and snip it right away. The whole reason for doing this was to reduce the risk to the mother of hemorrhaging. As it turns out, that associated risk wasn’t really a risk at all, and recent studies show that the benefits to delaying the cut are too good to ignore.
This January, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, or ACOG, “became the latest major medical organization to formally recommend that doctors routinely wait before clamping and cutting the cord,” as per the New York Times. They join with the American Academy of Pediatrics, the World Health Organization and the American College of Nurse-Midwives in advising that doctors hold off on severing the umbilical cord. In their announcement, ACOG states:
- “In term infants, delayed umbilical cord clamping increases hemoglobin levels at birth and improves iron stores in the first several months of life, which may have a favorable effect on developmental outcomes.
- Delayed umbilical cord clamping is associated with significant neonatal benefits in preterm infants, including improved transitional circulation, better establishment of red blood cell volume, decreased need for blood transfusion, and lower incidence of necrotizing enterocolitis and intraventricular hemorrhage.
- Given the benefits to most newborns and concordant with other professional organizations, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now recommends a delay in umbilical cord clamping in vigorous term and preterm infants for at least 30–60 seconds after birth.”
The extra blood and iron contributes to the newborn’s brain development; the Times cites a 2011 trial in Sweden where children who had delayed cord cutting “had modestly higher scores in fine motor and social skills” and were less likely to be iron-deficient in their early months of life. Because iron deficiency and poor oxygenation can lead to difficulties later, cutting the cord too soon may even be detrimental in some ways. There is also the chance that, given “umbilical cord blood contains immunoglobins and stem cells… researchers speculate that delayed cord clamping might aid immune function and tissue healing,” but this has not yet been studied.
The benefits of delayed clamping to pre-term child have long been espoused by most medical organizations, but now more and more groups are coming forward about the benefits for term babies as well. The Times claims there are currently 16 studies regarding cord clamping protocols, all of which may yield useful information for helping to protect both mothers and their children – and that’s something we can stand behind.
Crandall & Pera Law provides comprehensive counsel to injury victims throughout Ohio and Kentucky. For more information about our services, or to speak with a skilled birth injury attorney, please call out Ohio office at 877.686.8879, our Kentucky team at 877.651.7764, or fill out our contact form.