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Umbillical cord

Cutting umbilical cords too early places babies at risk of anemia

Friday, May 31, 2013 by: Michael Ravensthorpe
Tags: umbillical cord, infant anemia, placental blood

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(NaturalNews) Cutting the baby's umbilical cord immediately after birth has been a standard procedure in hospitals for decades. According to several recent studies, however, babies whose umbilical cords are instantly severed - thus depriving them of the blood still traveling to their bodies from the placenta - suffer from iron deficiencies for up to six months. Since low iron levels have been linked to neural development problems, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has considered updating its birthing guidelines to accommodate this important information.

Depriving newborn babies of blood: A routine practice

The NICE last updated their birthing guidelines in 2007. However, since then at least two essential studies have emerged - one in 2009 by the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (RCOG), and another in 2011 by a team of Swedish researchers for the British Medical Journal - that highlight the link between premature cord severance and anemia. These studies have prompted numerous campaigners and professionals, among them Belinda Phipps, the chief executive of the British parenting charity, NCT, to request that that NICE re-evaluate their guidelines.

"When a baby is born, about a third of the baby's blood is still in their cord and placenta," began Phipps. "With no good evidence to support it, it is accepted practice to accelerate the arrival of the placenta with an injection and clamp and cut the cord immediately, depriving the baby of this blood.

"It's becoming increasingly obvious that things need to change. It is time all those who are becoming parents were informed about the disadvantages of early clamping on a baby's breathing and iron levels.

"NCT would like to see the default position become leaving the cord for a few minutes until it stops pulsating unless the mother chooses either to have an injection to speed the arrival of her placenta or this is urgently required due to blood loss."

A spokesperson for the RCOG - the college responsible for one of the main studies drawing awareness to this little-known issue - agreed with Phipps's conclusion:

"The RCOG recommends that the umbilical cord should not be clamped earlier than necessary and should always be based on clinical assessment of the situation.

"Research has shown that delayed cord clamping of more than 30 seconds may benefit the newborn in reducing anemia. It also allows time for the transfusion of placental blood to the newborn, especially in cases of premature birth."

Professor Mark Baker, director of the Centre for Clinical Practice at NICE, has stated that researchers at the Institute are assessing the evidence regarding this issue and will update their guidelines in 2014 in light of their decision.

Sources for this article include:

http://www.bmj.com/content/343/bmj.d7157

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-22307946

http://www.guardian.co.uk

About the author:
Michael Ravensthorpe is an independent writer whose research interests include nutrition, alternative medicine, and bushcraft. He is the creator of the website, Spiritfoods, through which he promotes the world's healthiest foods.

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