Expert Calls on Hospitals to Change Practice of Clamping Newborns

Newly published research suggests that cutting the umbilical cord directly after a child is born could harm the baby. Maternity staff should wait for three minutes before cutting the cord, researchers recommend, in order to reduce the risk of iron deficiency, anaemia and hypovolaemia-or severe blood loss-in newborns.

Dr. David Hutchon, a retired consultant obstetrician from Memorial Hospital in Darlington, wrote in the British Medical Journal that UK hospitals are quite reluctant to change their practices. He added that the National Institute for Clinical Excellence advises them not to. This occurs in spite of advice from the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics.

Dr. Hutchon suggested that the reluctance to change the practice could be because clamping "has become the accepted norm so much so that delaying clamping is generally considered a new or unproved intervention".

Dr. Hutchon calls for further research on the matter. Waiting for several minutes allows the baby time to transfer from placental to pulmonary respiration, and vasospasm occurs naturally.

"Lack of awareness of current evidence, pragmatism and conflicting guidelines are all preventing change. To prevent further injury to babies we would be better to rush to change."