With all of the neurodevelopmental delays our children are experiencing these days, how great it is to have a study show the simple choice of waiting to cut the cord a couple minutes after the baby is born can actually improve your babies neurodevelopment. The study, “Effect of Delayed Cord Clamping on Neurodevelopment at 4 Years of Age A Randomized Clinical Trial,” published in JAMA Pediatrics May 2015 (and you can read it here… ) randomized newborns to have the cutting of the cord delayed by 3 minutes or cut right away in the first 10 seconds. They then looked at intelligence and development at age 4 and found no difference in intelligence scores but significant improvements in fine motor and social skills for those with delayed cord cutting, especially for boys.
Previous research showed similar improvements in intellectual outcome when very low birth weight infants were randomized to delayed cord cutting in the study, “Seven-month developmental outcomes of very low birth weight infants enrolled in a randomized controlled trial of delayed versus immediate cord clamping.” (You can read that study here… )
The Lancet article, “Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping on iron status in Mexican infants: a randomised controlled trial,” showed less iron deficiency anemia by delaying cord cutting for 2 minutes. (read more here… ) I have been routinely checking for anemia at 9 month well visits, and can say that relative anemia (hemoglobin below 12) is universal and a large percentage of 9 month olds are significantly anemic with hemoglobin below 11. By waiting at least 2-3 minutes with newborn on moms chest but still attached to the umbilical cord, the cord will continue to pulsate for a few minutes, which makes sure the baby gets as much of that nutrient rich blood as possible before the cutting permanently separates mom and baby.
This new study adds supportive evidence to the practice of delayed cord cutting for newborns who are not in distress and whose mothers are likewise doing well. The previous Cochrane review of this topic, “Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on maternal and neonatal outcomes,” (read here… ) found only benefits and no down side to delaying cord cutting.
If you are planning a delivery in the near future, I recommend you discuss this with your delivering provider or OB-Gyn to be sure they are willing to support your decision to wait 2-3 minutes after the baby is born to cut the cord. Re-address the topic when you are in labor so there is an understanding before you get to that time.