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Are the NHS cutting umbilical cords too soon?

According to childcare specialists, a baby’s umbilical cord should be left uncut just after birth. At present the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) advocates clamping and cutting the cord immediately, but the National Childbirth Trust and some medical experts are now saying the cord should be untouched for up to a few minutes to ensure that the baby continues to receive blood from the placenta and does not later become iron-deficient.

Experts believe that infants may be at risk of becoming anaemic by being denied the chance to receive as much as a third of their blood volume from the placenta through the cord.  Anaemia can later be associated with brain development and can affect cognitive ability. NICE is undertaking a review of its guidance and will report next year. Doctors hope its new advice, due in June 2014, will lead to delayed clamping replacing immediate clamping as the NHS's standard procedure.  

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