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More Good Things For Those Who Wait: New Study On Delayed Cord Clamping


In our series about real life health, Vital Signs, another look at delayed cord clamping.

Many doctors believe waiting as long as two or three minutes before cutting the umbilical cord provides a newborn with extra blood that can prevent iron deficiency.  But a new study of four year olds who had delayed cord clamping found a slight improvement in boys of social and motor skills.  

KERA’s Sam Baker talked about this with Dr. Sheri Puffer, an OB-GYN with Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital.

Highlights from Dr. Puffer’s interview:

Why was their improvement in motor and social skills? “We still don’t know why. This is the first study of its kind to show any sort of long term four year study based on this delayed cord clamping. The benefits of delayed cord clamping are increased iron stores up to six months of age. And now they’re showing possibly is there some cognitive developmental milestones that are increased in toddlers up to four years of age at least. It still needs to be shown does it continue throughout our life? What is magic about four years old?

Would an iron deficiency affect motor skills? “It’s been known for a long time that iron plays a role in the early development of the brain. And so they think during that first six month period, maybe it’s playing more of a role than we realized for the development. The critical period of brain growth is this first six months of age. And this coincides with if there’s a higher iron stores, possibly this is really helping the brain develop - especially if you have iron deficiency anemia population.”

What does iron do for the brain? “It helps with brain growth and helping the pathways of the brain form.”

For more information:

Study on Delayed Cord Clamping Effect on Child’s Neurodevelopment 

Study Examines Umbilical Cord Clamping And Neurodevelopment

WHO Recommendations for Timing of Umbilical Cord Clamping After Birth

Study Finds Benefits in Delaying Severing of Umbilical Cord

Iron Deficiency Anemia


Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.