The Dangers of Immediate Cord Clamping

In many hospitals, the umbilical cord is routinely cut and clamped just seconds after the baby is born. But could this carefree clamping be causing damage to your newborn baby? Research today is increasingly revealing that clamping the umbilical cord prematurely robs your baby of much-needed blood and oxygen.

In the womb, a baby’s lungs are filled with fluid, and it receives oxygen through the umbilical cord. When the infant is born, the placenta and cord continue to pulse, delivering a burst of blood volume to the infant’s system. This blood is needed to help the the lungs of the newborn to expand.  According to this startling article, Are Doctors Causing Infant Brain Damage by Clamping the Umbilical Cord Prematurely?

Without the burst of blood from the placenta, the infant suffers a drop in blood pressure as its lungs fail to open as they should, creating a chain reaction of effects that can include brain damage and lung damage. Immediate cord clamping can cause hypotension, hypovolemia and infant anemia, resulting in cognitive deficits. Some have even theorized that the rise in autism could be linked at least in part to early cord clamping.

Image of umbilical cord at birth

image from Mayo Clinic

Interestingly, the umbilical cord, if left intact, actually “clamps” itself in as little as five minutes. Wikipedia explains that shortly after birth, the reduction in temperature starts a physiological process which causes the Wharton’s jelly (that’s what the cord is made of) to swell and collapse the blood vessels within. This, in effect, creates a natural clamp, halting the flow of blood.

According to Dr. Mercola, the time between between birth and natural clamping, allows blood to flow from the placenta through the baby’s lungs. The natural process protects the baby’s brain by providing a continuous oxygen supply until the lungs are functioning well. While most full-term babies have enough blood to establish lung function and prevent brain damage, the early clamping can still leave them weak, pale, and gasping for air. For premature babies, the process can be even more devastating.

Immediate cord clamping could possibly be linked to:

  • Brain hemorrhage
  • Respiratory distress
  • Autism
  • Cerebral Palsy
  • Anemia
  • Brain injury
  • Learning disorders
  • Behavioral disorders

On the flip side, G. M. Morley asserts that “the child which is delivered without the use of a cord clamp receives a full placental transfusion with enough iron to prevent anemia for the firs year of life… this is only a reflection of how much of the infant’s blood volume was left clamped in its placenta. ” (Read more here.)

Today there is no consensus about the optimal time to clamp the umbilical cord after birth. But I think it’s interesting to note the observations of Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin’s grandfather) from 200 years ago:

“Another thing very injurious to the child, is the tying and cutting of the navel string too soon; which should always be left till the child has not only repeatedly breathed but till all pulsation in the cord ceases.

As otherwise the child is much weaker than it ought to be, a portion of the blood being left in the placenta, which ought to have been in the child.”

Moving forward, this 1963 Time article suggests that there are sound reasons for a slowdown in cutting the umbilical cord. It is based on a study by a group of pediatricians from the University of California:

The California pediatricians base their theory on a study of 129 infants. Among 41 whose umbilical cords were clamped before they took their second breath, 21 showed moderate to severe respiratory distress. In another group of 52 infants whose umbilicals had been clamped some time after the second breath, only six suffered the same symptoms. The condition of the infants who retained their umbilical cords longest was by far the best.

Given the overwhelming research about the potential harms of early cord clamping, both the World Health Organization and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics (FIGO) have dropped the practice from their guidelines. (Mercola) But it is still widely done in the United States and other developed countries, which I find hard to understand.

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  1. I am an ex-special education teacher. I really enjoy working with autistic kids, but would be glad if not another one were ever born again. The ICC ECC DCC issue intrigues me very much. I did home birth with DCC. It seems like such a cheap insurance policy for the health of one’s child.
    New evidence of this ICC /ECC harm comes from Somali immigrants in the USA. (they practice DCC there…they call autism an “American” disease. ) Apparently autism is not a big problem in Somalia. Same with amish…they do DCC. So maybe it’s not the vaccinations…it is so hard to let go of some theories and look for new paths to truth. I hope the autism community has the courage to go forward and look at other factors, like this one.

  2. I am very concerned the issue of warning is only on instant umbilical cord clamping. There are many medical persons making a living to encourage the yet sharing of placental blood trapped in the placenta by what they define as delayed. This is early cord clamping yet imposed before the baby is wrapped and kept warm, and before the placenta is birthed, and before the umbilical cord is white, silver in color, flat and not pulsating. The appearance of the placenta with full placental infusion into the baby (into their now expanding lungs) will be as to the Latin name means, a flat cake.

    There is yet on-going deception in the education of medics, ambulance dispatchers, firemen, and police who will come in all quickness to tie into the infant’s umbilical cord, and believe that there is such urgency to do so, they will use anything that is unsterilized to do so. That puts the baby to the risk of blood infections. And when it is done it puts the mother in danger, too. This is if the placenta is yet in the womb, and may leak into her own blood supply as it is birthed. The placenta is breaking down after 9 or 10 months gestation. So she and the baby will be having to receive a power antibiotic all because the medics and others, even at the hospital clamped the area of the cord, or tied it off with something not sterilized.

    In the best afterbirth care, it is to follow the natural design, leave well enough alone. The only need to ever tie off the cord is for a torn cord or an accident of a surgeon’s knife going into the cord. All other reasons are fear factors. Even a cord around the neck can be dealt with by putting something between the neck and the cord to prevent neck and vocal chord injury. For meconium, more blood into the baby will deal with the risk of infections, not less blood caused by early clamping. Fear of too much blood is a fear factor not known to cause an unnecessary clamping off the cord. After all, if there is any testing proving the placental blood inside the baby is harmful, there is always blood letting, known as venesection and phleboyomy.
    I have read no medical publications of the latter having to be done to correct a natural birth where no one clamped or cut the umbilical cord. This was the natural way prior to the 1920’s.
    I hope the reader will visit my web petition to the United Nations: stronger babies by no clamping off their umbilical cord and add their real name position, and a comment.

  3. Thanks for your comment Elizabeth. In my estimation, so-called autism is caused by a number of factors, or a combination of those factors. According to Dr Tinus’s Smits MD, about 75% of autism is vaccine-related.

    Other causes or contributing factors are toxic load from the mother’s mercury amalgam fillings or from coal-fired power stations, ultrasound pregnancy scans, drugs the mother was given while pregnant or during the birth of her baby, EMFs, and indeed early cord clamping.

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