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Clamping cord early 'harmful'

17th August 2007

A UK obstetrics expert has warned that clamping the umbilical cord straight after birth does not benefit mother or baby.

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Dr Andrew Weeks, senior lecturer in obstetrics at the University of Liverpool, says it may actually be harmful whereas leaving the cord for around three minutes can boost the baby’s iron stores which could cut the risk of anaemia.

The report in the British Medical Journal says that babies born prematurely would particularly benefit from delayed clamping where it is safe to do so.

Clamping soon after birth is now widely used as part of “active birth management? guidelines and has been shown to prevent the mother haemorrhaging though in developing countries where anaemia is an issue the practice is now to delay clamping. The World Health Organisation has dropped early clamping from its guidelines.

Dr Weeks, who is also a practising obstetrician, said although some steps were important, there was no evidence that clamping the cord immediately had any benefit for the mother while in the baby the evidence suggests that continuing the blood flow through the cord for a few minutes increases the iron stores.

Dr Weeks said it was time to reconsider the practice in the UK.

Professor Andrew Shennan from the baby charity Tommy’s, said it was not currently routine to delay clamping.

“It wouldn't be a big step not to clamp the cord for a while, and that's what nature intended,? he said.

The Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said the profession needed to go back and look at the evidence again.

 

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