MESA, Ariz. - It's a debate that's been going on for years inside of the delivery room, when to cut and clamp the umbilical cord after a baby is born. Now, several health organizations across the world are saying it may be best to wait.
For decades in the United states, medical experts have have recommended cutting the umbilical cord right after birth. But now, Dr. Curtis Cook, Medical Director for Maternal Fetal Medicine at Banner Desert, says that practice is changing in some hospital rooms.
"(We're) endorsing delayed cord clamping meaning delaying at least 30 to 60 seconds in both term and preterm infants," Dr. Cook said.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists now supports the change. The practice was last updated in 2012.
"There is an increase in iron stores and an increase in hemoglobin when they look at term infants," Dr. Cook said.
That increase in iron is said to stay with the newborn for their first several months. Dr. Cook says preterm babies could gain even more from the practice.
"Infection in the bowl, bleeding in the brain, decrease risk for blood transfusions, all of those are decreased by about 40 percent," Dr. Cook said.
In delayed cord clamping, full-term babies have a slightly higher risk of getting jaundice which can cause brain and developmental issues. But, Dr. Cook says the benefits outweigh the risks.
"Most people think that the risk is small enough that if you have the ability to have phototherapy at your hospital, then it's not a concern and they recommend it even in term infants," he said.
Dr. Cook says there doesn't appear to be any danger for mom. Researchers are now exploring how this practice could pass on stem cells to babies and antibodies, like what is found in breast milk.
Banner medical experts say they recommend delayed cord clamping for preterm babies and allow parents to make their own decision in full-term babies. If the newborn has complications after birth, then the plan may change.