A delay in clamping the umbilical cord of a newborn can have a positive affect on young children’s fine motor skills, especially boys, according to a study done at Uppsala University.
“If the cord is left in place for three minutes, the blood continues to flow into the newborn’s circulation. The baby receives about a decilitre of extra blood, which corresponds to two litres in an adult,’ says Dr. Andersson, a researcher at Uppsala University and paediatrician in Halmstad.
Cord clamping and cutting in most countries takes place immediately after birth, depriving the baby of an important iron supplement from the umbilical blood.
A recent JAMA Pediatrics article about the study describes a four-year study following a total of 263 or 69 percent of the babies from an earlier study. These children’s development was investigated by means of IQ and cognitive tests, and also questionnaires for the parents.
The results reveal no difference in IQ or overall development between the children whose cords were cut early and those who underwent delayed cord clamping (DCC). On the other hand, both the tests and the questionnaire responses were able to show that the children in whom DCC had taken place had slightly better fine motor skills when they were 4 years old. Boys’ fine motor skills benefited the most from DCC.
“Right from birth, girls generally have better iron stores, so boys have an elevated risk of iron deficiency,” Andersson says. “We hope our study will result in new recommendations around the world.”