National Partnership for Women & Families

In the News

Study Could Encourage Delayed Clamping of Umbilical Cord

Study Could Encourage Delayed Clamping of Umbilical Cord

April 18, 2014 — A post-delivery procedure known as delayed clamping -- waiting to cut a newborn's umbilical cord to allow more blood to flow from the placenta -- is equally beneficial whether the infant is held at an even level with the placenta or placed on the mother's stomach, according to a study published Wednesday in The Lancet, the New York Times' "Well" reports (Saint Louis, "Well," New York Times, 4/16).

Previous studies have shown that delaying clamping until about two minutes after birth can improve blood transfusion from the placenta and increase a newborn's iron levels (McNamee, Medical News Today, 4/17).

However, delayed clamping has not become a widespread practice, in part because many physicians have been taught that they have to hold the infant at the same level as the mother's vagina, which doctors find cumbersome with a wet, crying newborn (New York Times, 4/16). In addition, the practice delays body contact between the infant and mother.

To address the issue, three Argentina-based hospitals compared delayed clamping among 197 newborns who were held at the level of the mothers' placenta -- known as the introitus position -- and 194 newborns who were immediately placed on their mothers' chest or stomach after birth. The researchers recorded the newborns' weights at birth and then again immediately after delayed clamping to measure the volume of blood that passed from the placenta to the infants (Medical News Today, 4/17).

The study did not include premature newborns or infants who needed resuscitation or were delivered via cesarean section. "Well" reports that more research is needed on those groups.

According to the study, infants placed on their mothers gained 53 grams of blood, while those held at the placental level gained 56 grams of blood.

The researchers hope the findings will help persuade more physicians to delay clamping ("Well," New York Times, 4/16).