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Study: Waiting a bit to cut the cord could benefit baby over time

In our previous post, we looked at how medical standards have changed in recent decades. As we noted in that entry, there has long been a certain geographic bias that has resulted in variations in care standards across the country. Those standards have started to become more uniform as emphasis is put on the importance of evidence-based medicine and outcomes.

It’s in light of that observation that we wonder if a change in current standards of care regarding infant delivery might be coming. According to a study published in JAMA Pediatrics recently, researchers have found that children who remained linked to their mother’s by the umbilical cord for more than three minutes after being born fared better in some ways than those that didn’t.

Specifically, those infants developed slightly better fine motor and social skills than those whose cords were cut within 10 seconds of delivery. A British doctor, writing in an editorial that accompanied the study, said the results contribute to existing evidence that infants benefit from extra blood they get from the placenta. The doctor says the delay can increase infant blood volume by as much as one third. That can provide the brain with more valuable iron and improve the blood’s ability to absorb oxygen from the lungs.

Delaying the clamping and cutting of the cord is a strategy that has been getting increased attention in recent years because of the apparent benefits to the newborn. It has been shown to be especially beneficial for premature babies. Previously, doctors had believed quick cutting reduced the chance of hemorrhage injuries to mothers. But that hasn’t been borne out by research.

Experienced attorneys know that the success of birth injury claims typically depend on being able to show that best practices in providing the proper standard of care were not followed in a given case.

For now, it doesn’t appear likely that this study will change current standards. The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists are still not ready to endorse delayed clamping and cutting for all infants. It says there’s not enough evidence related to full-term infants. The World Health Organization standard is to recommend waiting at least one minute.

Meanwhile, there is also some concern that there’s not enough evidence about whether there could be possible harm from following the practice.