You may want to tell your doctor—or the excited new dad—to count to 180 before cutting your newborn's umbilical cord. Why? It could help reduce Baby's risk of developing iron deficiency anemia.
In the US and other western countries, it's standard practice for newborns to have their umbilical cords clamped and snipped within 30 seconds to a minute of birth. After all, you want that baby in your arms as soon as possible, right? But researchers from Sweden now think that waiting just a little longer before "cutting the cord" may reduce some babies' risk for developing iron deficiency anemia. (The thinking goes that an extra few minutes gives babies one last chance to soak up iron-rich cord blood.) Researchers estimate that for every 20 babies who have delayed clamping, one case of iron deficiency could be prevented. As for the other 19 babies? Researchers found no problems or health risks from leaving the cord in place a little bit longer.
In fact, the drawbacks appear so non-existent, and the benefits so noticeable, that Ola Andersson, neonatology consultant at the Hospital of Halland in southern Sweden and one of the study authors, says that delayed cord clamping "should be considered as standard care for full-term deliveries after uncomplicated pregnancies." (via FOX News)
At least one pediatrician who looked over the research agrees. "The balance of maternal risks and infant benefits of delayed cord clamping now clearly favors the child. How much more evidence is needed to convince obstetricians and midwives that it is worthwhile to wait for three minutes...?" writes Dr. Patrick van Rheenen, consultant pediatrician at the University of Groningen in The Netherlands.
Approximately 400 infants born after low-risk pregnancies were involved in the study. Some had their umbilical cords clamped after at least three minutes and others had them clamped in less than 10 seconds after delivery. On average, researchers found that babies who experienced delayed clamping tended to have better iron levels at 4 months of age and fewer cases of iron deficiency than babies whose cords were cut within seconds of being born.
Should you opt for delayed cord cutting? This is definitely something you want to think about—and discuss with your doctor or midwife—long before your due date.