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Wait before cutting the umbilical cord, say researchers

28 May 2010
Appeared in BioNews 560

Delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord after birth by several minutes could bring future health benefits to newborns, according to new research.

Scientists looked at a series of trials that have tested the benefits and risks of cord clamping and found that delaying clamping led to statistically significant benefits for babies - reducing the risk of many illnesses, including, anaemia, chronic lung disease, brain haemorrhages, sepsis, and eye disease in later life. These results applied to both preterm and term babies, with no difference between vaginal or caesarean births.

'Several clinical studies have shown that delaying clamping the umbilical cord not only allows more blood to be transferred but helps prevent anaemia as well, reported lead researcher Professor Paul Sanberg of the University of South Florida.

'Cord blood contains many valuable stem cells, making this transfer of stem cells a process that might be considered the original stem cell transplant. The virtue of the unique and immature features of cord blood, including their ability to differentiate, are well known.'

Early cord clamping remains the most common practice among obstetricians and midwives in the western hemisphere. This is defined as being immediately to less than one minute after birth. Current procedures were first put in place over 50 years ago, where the therapeutic value of cord blood and its stem cells were still unclear, Sandberg explains.

Delayed cord clamping is generally greater than one minute to until the cord stops pulsating. In some cultures the cord is allowed to dry, wither and fall off naturally which can take up to three days.

The research was published in the Journal of Cellular and Molecular Medicine.

New study on stem cells in cord suggest delayed cord clamping after birth |  25 May 2010
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13 February 2012 - by Dr Rebecca Hill 
US researchers have received approval to test whether cord blood stem cells could be used to reverse hearing loss in children...
22 November 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine 
In April 2008, a Los Angeles Times article posed the question: 'Can a child's umbilical cord blood be used to treat his own cerebral palsy?' (1) The article referred to the extraordinary improvement in health of a little boy in the US, Dallas Hextell, who has the motor neurone disease, cerebral palsy...
16 August 2010 - by Dr Helen Busby 
The possibilities presented by the storage or 'banking' of stem cells from umbilical cord blood after birth have attracted considerable public and media interest since the early part of this decade...
16 March 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine 
Back in 2002, I recall a story in Red magazine about a father who had allegedly collected the stem cells from his newborn baby's umbilical cord in the delivering hospital's car park. It said he had been handed the placenta - wrapped in newspaper - by the midwife and told that if he wanted to save the cord blood, it would have to be done outside. You might say that this is rather a strange place to procure such precious cells that have the ability to treat a range of blood cancers and disorder...
12 March 2010 - by Dr Shaun Griffin 
On Tuesday (9 March) the UK's Human Tissue Authority (HTA) took the unprecedented step of writing to more than 150 organisations to express our concerns that umbilical cord blood is being collected unlawfully, and that this activity may compromise safety and quality standards. Our letters were targeted at those we regulate, maternity units, professional bodies and others...
25 January 2010 - by Dr Sophie Pryor 
Scientists in the US have developed a new technique for multiplying the small number of stem cells found in umbilical cord blood and have tested it on leukaemia patients for the first time. It is hoped that the new technique could ultimately remove the need for tissue-matched bone marrow transplants....
25 January 2010 - by Dr Karen Devine 
In last week's BioNews, Mr David Burrowes, MP, commented on his successful introduction of a private member's bill on umbilical cord blood (UCB) donation in the UK Parliament in 2008, and how his continued efforts to raise awareness of the benefits of saving UCB for public use has been favourably met in a recent adjournment debate in the House of Commons....
19 January 2010 - by David Burrowes MP 
In 2008 I was the first UK MP to raise the issue of umbilical cord blood (UCB) banking as a private members bill in Parliament and several MPs spoke to me of their previous ignorance of UCB. It is an ignorance I shared despite being a parent of six children and living close to one of the National Health Service (NHS) hospitals that collects it....
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