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Don't clamp umbilical cords straight after birth, urges expert

Date:
November 12, 2010
Source:
BMJ-British Medical Journal
Summary:
Obstetricians and midwives should wait a few minutes before clamping the umbilical cords of newborn infants so that babies are not harmed by the procedure, an expert urges in an new article.

Obstetricians and midwives should wait a few minutes before clamping the umbilical cords of newborn infants so that babies are not harmed by the procedure, argues Dr David Hutchon in an article published online in the British Medical Journal.

Hutchon, a retired consultant obstetrician from the Memorial Hospital in Darlington, says it's time for the UK to follow guidance from the World Health Organisation and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics and refrain from early cord clamping.

Despite evidence for the benefit of delayed cord clamping, clinicians in the UK seem reluctant to change their practice, he says, and the UK National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) is not advising them to do so.

One explanation for the apparent resistance of clinicians to follow the evidence is that that cord clamping "has become the accepted norm so much so that delaying clamping is generally considered a new or unproved intervention," he writes.

Yet he argues that "applying a clamp to the cord is clearly an intervention, having the greatest effect when it is done quickly after birth." And he fears that babies might be injured by very early clamping, for example they could experience severe blood loss (hypovolaemia).

He adds that two popular pregnancy information books both imply that delayed cord clamping is the norm and explain the advantage to the baby of delayed clamping.

Hutchon believes that if the need for early cord clamping was removed from NICE's guideline, "there could be an overnight change in practice."

He concludes: "Clamping the functioning umbilical cord at birth is an unproven intervention. 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."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BMJ-British Medical Journal. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David J R Hutchon. Personal View: Why do obstetricians and midwives still rush to clamp the cord? British Medical Journal, 2010; 341: c5447 DOI: 10.1136/bmj.c5447

Cite This Page:

BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Don't clamp umbilical cords straight after birth, urges expert." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 12 November 2010. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101110191459.htm>.
BMJ-British Medical Journal. (2010, November 12). Don't clamp umbilical cords straight after birth, urges expert. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 16, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101110191459.htm
BMJ-British Medical Journal. "Don't clamp umbilical cords straight after birth, urges expert." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/11/101110191459.htm (accessed September 16, 2014).

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