Life can be a challenge. When parents are getting ready to bring a new child into the world, it’s understandable that they would want to do whatever they can to make sure their newborn has a leg up.
Establishing standards of medical practice aren’t driven by that specific objective. They are more focused on making sure that when best practices are discovered and proven to work they can be applied uniformly for the benefit of all patients. Unfortunately, due to negligence or error on the part of providers, birth injuries occur, resulting in serious conditions that can affect the whole family for a lifetime.
Medicine is a dynamic field. Standards of care change over time as new discoveries are made. Some are adopted more quickly than are others, however, and so it becomes incumbent on individuals to be as up to date on what’s happening regarding particular procedures. True accountability and the protection of rights depend on it.
We mention this because of a new study that seems to suggest it might be time for the standard of care to change around the question: When should doctors clamp off the umbilical cord of a newborn after delivery?
Clinicians have long held the view that early clamping reduces risks of a mother suffering hemorrhages after birth. But that isn’t backed up by research.
Meanwhile, other studies, including one out of Sweden, supports the idea that delaying clamping offers a number of benefits to a child — at birth and later in development.
In the Swedish study, half of a study group of about 260 full-term newborns had their cords clamped within 10 seconds of birth. The other half had the cords clamped more than three minutes after delivery. Four years later, the children were tested for IQ, motor and social skills, problem-solving, behavior and communication skills. Those who were clamped later showed modestly higher scores in the areas of social and fine motor skills.
Experts speculate delaying clamping allows more blood from mom to transfer to baby. More blood means more iron, and iron is critical to healthy brain development.
Delayed clamping is endorsed by the World Health Organization, but the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists is holding off. It says it wants more evidence.
Still, it’s something expecting parents might want to be aware of now.