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Clamping update to be delivered

Posted: 21 August 2012 by Rob Dabrowski

The RCM is set to issue advice that midwives should wait before cutting the umbilical cord.

Placenta/umbilical cord
Current guidance is that, excluding physiological birth, the cord should be clamped within 30 seconds.

But growing evidence suggests that waiting for a few minutes after birth is better for the baby and new guidelines are currently being drawn up.

The guidance is expected to be published in November and is due to be unveiled at the RCM conference in Brighton.

It was previously thought that cutting the cord within 30 seconds protects babies from exposure to hormones given to speed up labour and deliver the placenta and could also prevent jaundice.

But it is now believed that being connected to the maternal blood supply for longer helps protect against iron deficiency, anaemia and allows the transfer of vital stem cells.

A growing number of women are also requesting that the cord is not clamped until it has stopped pulsating.

Mervi Jokinen, practice and standards development adviser at the RCM, said: ‘We are supporting the midwives not to clamp the cord immediately.’

She said that it is in the pipeline after studies showed early clamping means ‘denying a baby a boost of blood’ leading to lower haemoglobin levels later on.

She added that the guidelines have not been finalised and it hasn’t been confirmed what the advised clamping delay will be. But it is expected to be about three to five minutes.

A study from Sweden found that a delay of three minutes could reduce the risk of anaemia and iron deficiency later in childhood.

A major US study, which involved more than 1900 newborns, found a two-minute delay could to half risk of anaemia and reduce the possibility of low iron levels by a third.