Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : May 2nd 2013 Contents B36
body & soul
Guardian www.guardian.co.tt Thursday, May 2, 2013
YOUR DAILY HEALTH
News and Advice
Cutting the umbilical cord immediately after
birth---currently standard practice---puts the baby
at risk of iron deficiency, experts say.
Official guidelines are currently being examined---
and professionals and campaigners say they should
Leaving the cord attached for a few minutes allows
the blood in the cord to transfer to the baby,
The National Institute for Health and Care Excel-
lence (NICE) says it will publish new guidelines next
The existing guidance on cord-clamping was pub-
lished in 2007, when the consensus was that cutting
the cord immediately was the best option---something
which had been the case for decades.
But since then, researchers have questioned whether
that is still the case.
A paper from the Royal College of Obstetricians
and Gynaecologists (RCOG) published in 2009, stated
that babies whose umbilical cords are clamped imme-
diately have lower iron stores for up to six months.
Low iron levels have been linked to brain devel-
The suggestion is that the cord should not be cut
until it has stopped pulsating naturally---anywhere
between two and five minutes after birth.
Some hospitals have already changed their practice.
A relatively high number of abnormal folds and
cell growths in the placenta could be a strong indi-
cator of an infant s risk for developing autism,
according to new research at the Yale School of
The research team examined 117 placentas from
infants of at-risk families---those with one or more
previous children with autism. These families were
participating in a study called Markers of Autism
Risk in Babies---Learning Early Signs. Then the
researchers compared these at-risk placentas to 100
The at-risk placentas had as many as 15 trophoblast
inclusions, while none of the control placentas had
more than two trophoblast inclusions.
According to the researchers, a placenta with four
or more trophoblast inclusions conservatively predicted
a 96.7 per cent probability of the infant being at risk
Currently, one out of 50 children are diagnosed
with an autism spectrum disorder in the United
States each year, according to the Centers for Disease
Control and Prevention (CDC).
However, this diagnosis is typically made when
these children are three to four years of age or older.
By then the best opportunities for intervention have
been lost because the brain is most responsive to
treatment in the first year of life. (psychcentral.com)
Cutting umbilical cord early puts babies at risk
Commenting on the current re-evaluation
of the guidance, an RCOG spokesman said:
"The college recommends that the umbilical
cord should not be clamped earlier than nec-
essary and should always be based on clinical
assessment of the situation.
"Research has shown that delayed cord
clamping of more than 30 seconds may ben-
efit the newborn in reducing anaemia.
"It also allows time for the transfusion of
placental blood to the newborn, especially
in cases of premature birth."
But she said there could be some cases
where complications meant it was better to
clamp the cord immediately.
Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the
National Childbirth Trust (NCT) said: "When
a baby is born about a third for the baby s
blood is still in his/her cord and placenta.
"The NCT would like to see the default
position become leaving the cord for a few
minutes until it stops pulsating, unless the
mother chooses to have an injection to speed
the arrival of her placenta or unless the blood
loss from the mother means her uterus must
be encouraged, with drugs, to contract and
expel the placenta quickly."
Folds in placenta
linked to autism
• Specialised placental cells known as trophoblasts
make up the two layers of the placental
surface---the outer, syncytial trophoblast layer
and the inner, cytotrophoblast layer.
• As they multiply, the two layers normally fuse,
causing bulges in the placental surface that
become new villi connecting the placenta to the
• Abnormality occurs when the multiplying cells in
the inner layer mostly fail to fuse with the outer
layer. That causes the placental surface to curl
inward, forming divots called trophoblast
Cutting the umbilical cord
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