A simple yet rare solution

By: | Tags: | Comments: 0 | July 29th, 2015

Iron deficiency in newborns can be checked if doctors wait for two minutes before cutting the umbilical cord

More than 75 percent infants in India suffer from anaemia or iron deficiency, says a National Family Health Survey conducted in 2006. The problem can be reduced substantially if doctors wait for two to three minutes before cutting the umbilical cord during childbirth. Unfortunately, most doctors prefer not to wait before they clamp the cord.

The umbilical cord provides nutrition and blood to the baby from the mother. For many years, researchers have pointed out that delaying cutting of the umbilical cord is good for the health of the baby. If the cord is cut at least two minutes after the birth of the child, the baby can take in more blood from the placenta, which makes the infant stronger. This delay also helps the baby fight iron deficiency (see ‘Especially good for babies of anaemic mothers’).

According to the World Health Organization guidelines, doctors should wait till the “cord is flat and pulseless.” That happens two to three minutes after birth. Even the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare recommends delayed cord clamping (DCC) in the current national guidelines for the care of newborn and has incorporated the practice in all its training modules in the past two years. Despite clear guidelines, most doctors do not practise DCC.

One of the reasons behind the non-compliance has been the assumption that the baby has to be held in the introitus position (at the level of vagina) for DCC because gravity affects the volume of placental transfusion through the umbilical cord. This is often cited by doctors as a difficult posture to strike, especially with a slippery baby in gloved hands. But a new study by Nestor E Vain and his colleagues from School of Medicine, University of Buenos Aires, Argentina, provides a solution.

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