A new research has suggested that delaying the cutting of a baby's umbilical cord can be beneficial. A new study conducted by Swedish researchers provided evidence that delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord by about three minutes after a baby's delivery may help boost the child's fine-motor and social skills by the time he turns 4 years old.

In a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics on May 26, researchers wanted to investigate the long term effects of delayed umbilical cord clamping as it was already shown to prevent iron deficiency in children between 4 and 6 months old.

They randomly assigned half of 263 newborns to have their umbilical cords clamped more than three minutes after they were born. The remaining newborns were clamped less than 10 seconds after delivery.

After four years, the children went through a series of assessments to look at their social skills, motor skills, problem-solving abilities, behavior, communication skills and IQ. The results showed that the children with delayed cord clamping had modestly higher scores in fine motor and social skills compared with their counterparts. Statistically significant improvements were notably seen in boys.

"Delaying CC for 3 minutes after delivery resulted in similar overall neurodevelopment and behavior among 4-year-old children compared with early CC," the researchers wrote. "The included children constitute a group of low-risk children born in a high-income country with a low prevalence of iron deficiency. Still, differences between the groups were found, indicating that there are positive, and in no instance harmful, effects from delayed CC."

The researchers said that delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord allows for the continued flow of the child's blood from the placenta, which in turn appears to be associated with improved iron levels in infant by their fourth to sixth month and this may help prevent some developmental problems.

"During the delayed clamping, the child receives half a cup of extra blood, which contains a lot of iron, and can prevent iron deficiency," said study Ola Andersson, from the Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.

Heike Rabe, from the Brighton & Sussex Medical School said that there is growing number of evidence based on studies that infants who were either born at term or too early can benefit from getting extra blood from the placenta during birth. Rabe noted that cord clamping delays is particularly important in babies who are born in developing countries as better levels of iron could reduce risks of infection in the first months of life.

Photo: Dave Herholz | Flickr 

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