It turns out that timing is everything when it comes to giving the best for your baby, from when to first introduce the first solid meal to when to cut the umbilical cord.
Doctors typically clamp and cut the newborns umbilical cord within the first minute as it was believed to lower the risk of severe bleeding in the mother. However, a new study of 3,911 mother and newborn pairs found that waiting to clamp the cord for one to three minutes after birth meant newborns were inundated with nutrient-rich blood filled with iron.
The study, published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, found that births where doctors delayed clamping the umbilical cord from anywhere between one to three minute resulted in newborns having higher hemoglobin concentrations 24 to 48 hours after birth.
When tested three to six months later, they also had higher iron stores compared to the newborns who had theirs clamped and cut within the first minute. These babies also tended to have higher birth weights. The study also found that prolonging cord removal created no extra risk to the mother.
Once an infant is born, the umbilical cord is clamped in two locations - near the baby's navel and then farther down the cord. The doctor, or the baby's father if he chooses to, cuts the cord between the two clamps.
The debate surrounding the best time to clamp the cord has been in the medical community for quite some time now. The latest study adds to previous research suggesting that most doctors currently perform the procedure too early.
"I suspect we'll have more and more delayed cord clamping," Dr. Jeffrey Ecker, the chair of committee on obstetrics practice for the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, told the New York Times.
The only downfall, noted by the researchers with waiting longer than a minute to clamp the cord, was that they had an additional risk of jaundice that requires phototherapy. Jaundice is a yellow color of the skin, mucus membranes, or eyes. The yellow coloring comes from bilirubin, a byproduct of old red blood cells.
The new research did not include many women who had Caesarean sections. "We don't have enough information on the effects of delayed cord clamping for someone undergoing a Caesarean delivery in terms of postpartum hemorrhage," said Dr. Cynthia Gyamfi-Bannerman, medical director of the perinatal clinic at Columbia University.
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