The process of delayed umbilical cord clamping is the act of allowing the cord to stay open and intact for a longer period after delivery before clamping. The common practice for cord clamping is to clamp it within 15 seconds of delivery. When delayed, the cord is often clamped at after a longer period, ranging from 25 seconds to as long as five minutes post-delivery. The reason this is practiced is to allow more blood to flow through to the infant before clamping. This increases the total blood volume for the infant. In some situations, this can be deemed beneficial, however, any assessment should be made on a case by case basis.
Who Can Benefit from Delayed Clamping?
Preterm or premature babies can be susceptible to low blood pressure and low body temperature. Babies born pre-term can benefit from the increased blood volume in order to avoid the need for a blood transfusion to aid with low blood pressure. This increase in the overall blood volume and pressure can also be beneficial in preventing other troubling conditions such as bleeding in the brain or a bowel complication known as necrotizing enterocolitis which causes bacterial infection and inflammation of the intestine wall. While the immediate benefits of delayed cord clamping have been recorded, the long-term benefits have not been recorded. As for term infants, in general, they are at an overall lesser risk for complication and may not see great benefit for this practice.
What are the Risks?
The most common risk with the use of delayed cord clamping is the development of jaundice. Jaundice occurs when there’s too much bilirubin in the infant’s blood, causing yellowing of the skin. While there are no other known risks, there is also very little information available about the long-term effects of performing a delayed cord clamping. Therefore the use of delayed cord clamping in term infants has no proven benefits; while in preterm births some benefits have been cited.
Professionals on Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping
The professional community consisting of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the American Academy of Pediatrics do support the use of delayed cord clamping in preterm infants for a total of 30-60 seconds in duration post-delivery. As for term infants, the professional community doesn’t feel that there is sufficient evidence to support that there is any benefit.
This blog has been a summary of the ‘Will delayed umbilical cord clamping help my baby?’ patient handout brought to you by the Society for Maternal-Fetal Medicine with the assistance of Loralei Thornburg, MD, University of Rochester, Strong Memorial Hospital.
Carnegie Imaging for Women blogs are intended for educational purposes only and do not replace certified professional care. Medical conditions vary and change frequently. Please ask your doctor any questions you may have regarding your condition to receive a proper diagnosis or risk analysis. Thank you!