The routine practice of obstetricians and hospitals is to cut the cord almost immediately after delivery, but recent research suggests that doing so may reduce the infant’s supply of oxygen and nutrient-rich blood in the crucial minutes before they start breathing. Specialists now believe that in vulnerable infants, this is leading to iron deficiencies, brain hemorrhaging and mental impairment, including autism.
Dr. David Hutchon, consultant obstetrician at Darlington Memorial Hospital who has studied the effects of cord clamping says,”Babies are being put at risk by clamping the cord too quickly. The blood and oxygen supplies in the baby are rapidly decreasing during the minutes after birth. Infants need an increased blood volume to fill their lungs and the rest of their organs that are coming into use.”
In one major study, involving more than 1,900 newborns and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, delaying cord clamping for two minutes reduced the risk of anemia by half and low iron levels in the blood by a third.
Dr. Andrew Weeks, senior lecturer in Obstetrics at the University of Liverpool and practicing obstetrician at Liverpool Women’s Hospital, had similar findings in his study published in the British Medical Journal. “I delay the cutting of the cord,” he says. “This is especially important for premature babies who have fragile blood vessels. The lack of blood supply could theoretically lead to autism. There is evidence to show it [immediate clamping] can damage a baby but none to show it can benefit.”
Leaving a newborn baby’s umbilical cord intact until it stops pulsating allows all the nutrients from the placenta to pass to the baby. Parents should be informed of this option and given a choice. Talk to your obstetrician or midwife today about giving your newborn the best start at birth.