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Waiting to Clamp the Umbilical Cord May Be Better for Babies
Date:5/26/2010

Cord blood and stem cells continue to flow to newborn in minutes after birth, review finds

WEDNESDAY, May 26 (HealthDay News) -- Pregnant women may want to consider asking their doctors to hold off on clamping the umbilical cord for a few minutes after the baby is born, a new study suggests.

Clamping the cord in the seconds after birth cuts off the blood flow from mom to baby. While not necessarily harmful, the common practice in delivery rooms potentially robs newborns of those last precious minutes of cord blood, the researchers said, and cord blood contains stem cells that have regenerative properties and can grow into different types of cells.

Research suggests there may be some benefits to getting that extra blood from mom right after birth, said senior study author Dr. Paul Sanberg, director of the University of South Florida's Center of Excellence for Aging and Brain Repair.

Delaying clamping for an extra minute or two may help prevent anemia in full-term infants, according to a study cited by the researchers. Studies on preterm infants have found delaying clamping the cord for 30 seconds or more reduced the incidence of anemia, intraventricular hemorrhage (brain bleeding), late-onset sepsis (a complication of infection in the days after birth), and decreased the need for blood transfusions, according to the study.

Calling the cord blood "nature's first stem cell transplant," Sanberg said more needs to be learned about the impact of cutting the cord before evolution intended.

"As we learn more about the value of cord blood, the benefits of delaying cord clamping may outweigh any risks, especially in preemies or in babies we know may have some problems before or shortly after birth," Sanberg said.

The paper, a review of medical literature on cord clamping, was published in a recent issue of the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

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