Research shows that delaying umbilical cord cutting by just 30-60 seconds has significant health and developmental benefits!
Bellybuttons are a quirky thing; some people have deep, cavernous ones, some possess a shy dimple in their abdomen, and others flaunt the brazen outspokenness of an “outie.” Up to chance, it all depends on the technique of the obstetrician. Though navel shape and size is diverse, the resounding opinion of medical professionals increasingly sways toward delaying the severing of umbilical cords at birth.
"The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that a 30-60 second delay in clamping increases hemoglobin levels and delivers extra iron to the infant, improving iron stores and contributing to development."
Various medical organizations have come forward in recommending the delay of clamping and cutting newborn umbilical cords, citing numerous health benefits. In a January Committee Opinion release replacing their 2012 recommendation, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists states that a 30-60 second delay in clamping increases hemoglobin levels and delivers extra iron to the infant, improving iron stores and contributing to development. Similarly, the World Health Organization recommends a delay of at least 60 seconds, while the American College of Nurse-Midwives suggests two to five minutes.
Though the recommended intervals differ, the consequences of clamping immediately remain the same across the board. Iron deficiency is estimated to affect 8-14% of toddlers and infants in the U.S., according to the U.S. Preventative Services Task Force, and there is a suggestion that early childhood iron deficiency anemia may be associated with developmental risks and health problems. In a Swedish trial completed in 2011, it was determined that a mere 0.6% of term infants with a three-minute clamping delay were iron deficient by four months; considerably less than the 5.7% of infants with immediate cord clamping.
The boost of iron provided by delayed clamping and cutting not only assists in preventing iron deficiency and anemia, but has a great impact upon infant and childhood brain development. A 2015 clinical trial found that by the age of four, delayed cord clamping resulted in higher fine motor and social skills in children.
Without the extra iron, children may be more susceptible to irreversibly impaired cognitive, motor, and behavioral development. As delayed cord cutting continues to challenge common practices and becomes more widespread, we may see a nationwide decrease in the prevalence of infant iron deficiency and related conditions. The first few moments of life are critical, and it would seem that delaying for a moment or two more may make all the difference.