In short: it turns out children whose umbilical cord was later cut off grew healthier and stronger than their peers who were cut off at once. In addition, they made better social contacts. Incredible?
When to cut the umbilical cord?
Some believe that the best moment to cut the umbilical cord is when it falls off by itself, in other words - it is better not to interfere with nature. Yes, yes - no shortage of people, who refuse to cut the placenta and the umbilical cord and practice lotus delivery. I must admit that this is an extreme solution that can be decided, taking into account the consequences associated with it.
There is also another option. Increasingly, it is practiced to postpone umbilical cord cutting, deciding to wait about 3-4 minutes after delivery before reaching for the scissors. Why is this decision made? How is it supposed to affect a child's health and development?
Why should you wait to cut your umbilical cord for 3 minutes?
Scientists have shown that abstaining from cutting the umbilical cord for a few minutes after delivery:
- reduces the risk of iron deficiency in children after delivery for 4 to 6 months,
- increases blood volume by up to 1/3 (increases red blood cell count and iron stores),
- allows you to preserve valuable stem cells belonging to the child,
- promotes social development of the child.
An infant study was conducted, 141 children had their umbilical cord tightened up to four minutes after birth, a second group of 122 children had their umbilical cord cut within 10 seconds of birth. After four years, scientists examined the level of IQ and children's cognitive abilities. It turned out that there is no difference between the intellectual abilities of the kids from each group.
However, it was proved that boys whose umbilical cord was later tightened showed better motor skills such as holding a feather and better social behavior compared to boys who had their umbilical cord cut off immediately (they were less likely to have autism spectrum disorders). In girls, these differences were not noticed. Scientists suggest that perhaps because they have better iron reserves and are better protected against their loss. Iron shortage after birth has long been associated with delayed social development.
Some studies also indicate the risk of subsequent umbilical cord dissection, but they are poorly documented.
New recommendation - when to cut the umbilical cord?
WHO recommends leaving the umbilical cord uncut for a minimum of one minute after delivery, and preferably (if conditions allow) for at least three minutes. Regulation of the Minister of Health, which specifies the so-called the standard of perinatal care indicates that the umbilical cord is tightened and cut off in the event of physiological delivery and good condition of the mother and child took place after cessation of ripple. Unfortunately, the problem with this indication is that it is difficult to objectively determine the moment of cessation of pulse. WHO's indications seem to settle this dilemma, giving specific time frames that can be considered for physiological delivery, without complications.
Scientists recommend postponing cutting the umbilical cord especially to to avoid iron deficiency, which is very common (more and more often) among babies born in highly developed countries. Currently, iron deficiency is diagnosed in 10% of newborns.
Of course, there are dietary supplements that help to compensate for this deficit, but you need to be aware of problems with their absorption, as well as irritation of the delicate digestive tract. That is why it is so important to do everything so that the newborn can start with the optimal level of iron in the blood. Later cutting off the umbilical cord may help.