Area obstetricians see more moms choosing to delay umbilical cord clamping

Posted Friday, Aug. 23, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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Marisa Oliver and Joses Rosas were eager to meet their first-born daughter this week, but the Grand Prairie couple decided there was one thing they didn’t want to rush.

When Miranda Scarlett Rosas was born at Texas Health Arlington Memorial Hospital on Tuesday afternoon, Oliver asked her obstetrician to wait at least one minute after birth before she clamped and cut the umbilical cord. That additional time allowed more oxygenated blood from the placenta to flow into Miranda, something Oliver had read could provide health benefits for her baby girl.

“Knowing the baby was going to get the extra blood flowing from me and the nutrients it would give her made it OK,” Oliver said about her decision to wait.

Local obstetricians and midwives say they are seeing an increase in patients seeking delayed umbilical cord clamping for their newborns. Typically, the cord is clamped and severed within seconds of birth. But a new study published in The Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found that delaying clamping for at least one minute after birth may increase levels of hemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red pigment in blood, and improve iron reserves, which can reduce anemia, in full-term babies.

The study, which included 15 trials with 3,911 mother and infant pairs, also found the delayed clamping did not significantly increase the risk of bleeding for mothers, something doctors have been concerned about.

“Delayed cord clamping has always been a controversy in OB/GYN because people have never known what is the right answer. Should we wait or should we not?” said Dr. Sheri Puffer, an obstetrician at Arlington Memorial. “They used to think Mom might bleed more if they waited. Postpartum hemorrhage is the leading cause of maternal mortality worldwide. That was always a concern.”

Puffer said media coverage of the study’s results has led to more of her patients asking about delayed cord clamping. It’s something Puffer, who is 39 weeks pregnant, said she also wants to do when her son is born.

“In that blood is immunoglobulins, antibodies — all sorts of good stuff in there,” Puffer said.

Midwife Lindsay Griffith said delayed cord clamping has become standard for private practice vaginal deliveries at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth and has become a more common practice at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.

Griffith said she was not aware of local doctors delaying cord clamping during caesarian deliveries but patients who are interested in the reported health benefits should still ask if that option was available.

“This is a big thing. It’s something a lot of people are asking about and they are transferring their care because it is important to them and their providers may not be well versed in it,” Griffith said. “We encourage all moms to ask about it.”

Griffith said babies with delayed cord clamping are less likely to have childhood anemia, which can create problems such as lack of energy or even dietary issues.

“It is one of the main methods of preventing infant and childhood anemia in [developing] countries,” Griffith said.

Like those in Arlington and Fort Worth, the Texas Health Harris Methodist Southwest and HEB hospitals are also offering the delayed clamping option. Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital Fort Worth is also considering the process for preterm infants, officials said.

Patients should talk with their doctor to weigh the potential benefits against the risks, Puffer said.

“There was one disadvantage that they found with this study. They could have a higher risk of having jaundice,” Puffer said. “You need to make sure your hospital has phototherapy available, which all major hospitals do.”

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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