When your child is born, you want to make sure that they have the best possible chance of growing up to be as healthy as possible. This is why most mothers will take prenatal vitamins, as well as followed the recommendations of their physician in regard to the proper intake of food and modifying their habits throughout the day to provide the child with the best possible chance of developing in a healthy manner. Recent studies have shown that by not cutting the umbilical cord immediately after the child is born, but waiting several minutes, can actually provide many benefits for that child in his or her development. Here is an overview of how delayed umbilical cord clamping can actually help your child grow and mature into not only a healthy fully functional child, but may also provide a necessary neurodevelopmental boost by simply delaying the cord cutting for more than three minutes.
Role Of The Umbilical Cord
The umbilical cord, specifically with placental mammals, is the cord that connects the fetus and the placenta. It is during the time of prenatal development that the umbilical cord is genetically and physiologically part of the fetus, and actually contains two separate arteries, and one vein, all of which work together to provide nutrient rich blood and oxygen from the placenta to the fetus. At the same time, the fetal heart is responsible for pumping deoxygenated and nutrient depleted blood back through these arteries into the placenta so that it can flow back into the mother in order to be refurbished in her body. It is this ebb and flow of the blood in this manner which allows the fetus to help the child fully develop.
Three Benefits Of Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping
In recent studies, it has conclusively shown that by delaying the severing of the umbilical cord from the placenta for a minimum of three minutes that many benefits are made possible for the child. A recent study in which a couple hundred full-term newborns participated in a study, where half of them had their cords clamped three minutes after birth, and the other half had the cord cut less than 10 seconds after birth, showed that the cognitive development of those with the longest delay had better problem solving skills, motor skills, social skills, and a higher IQ than those that had there in the local cord cut within seconds. These same students also had less behavioral problems at home and within a school setting, and their ability to communicate was also heightened. In particular, the boys showed the most statistical improvement across the board, which may be attributed to the females having much higher estrogen levels within the womb during their development.
Additional Benefits Seen With Preterm Infants
There were also additional benefits that were noted, specifically with preterm infants. These babies were actually the ones that seemed to benefit the most. On top of all of the aforementioned benefits, these babies had much better blood pressure after birth, and also needed fewer drugs than preemies that have their umbilical cord cut immediately after birth, in order to stabilize blood pressure. The benefits also included less bleeding into the brain, and a diminished probability of life threatening bowel injuries and a lower risk of developing necrotizing enterocolitis. This prolonged connection to the placenta has enough science backing it to clearly show that immediately cutting the umbilical cord should be a practice that must be avoided.
Could This Practice Harm Infants?
Conversely, there are many prominent organizations that have not yet fully accepted the idea that delayed umbilical cord clamping is actually beneficial for every child that has this done. The world health organization, as well as the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has not yet endorsed this particular practice stating that there is simply not enough scientific information to conclusively say that this is the safest and most beneficial practice. They have actually cited other studies which have shown that this could actually lead to an increase in the possibility of a child developing jaundice. Other studies have shown that bilirubin in the blood has actually in increased, something that occurs when red blood cells break down prematurely. Although jaundice can easily be treated with certain therapies including blue light therapy, leading to very few complications, it is due to the fact that this practice is new, and does not have the blessings of the leading medical institutions, that it has not become a standard practice.
In conclusion, delayed umbilical cord clamping seems to show promise for helping some children, especially preemies that have benefited the most from this procedure. Hopefully, there will be additional studies done to conclusively show that this practice of delaying the severing of the umbilical cord from the placenta is beneficial, helping more children to have a better chance of developing physically and cognitively. It is something that every mother should talk to their physician about prior to the birth of their child, a technique that could provide many benefits for preemies and those born full term.