Delayed Cord Clamping May Boost Social, Motor Skills

newborn babyFor decades, doctors have routinely clamped the umbilical cords of newborns moments after birth. Some parents now avoid immediate clamping in favor of allowing the umbilical cord to remain attached anywhere from a few minutes to, among more radical birth activists, several days. Some parents report experiencing pushback from doctors who want to immediately clamp the umbilical cord, citing evidence that immediate clamping reduces the mother’s risk of a hemorrhage. Research hasn’t found a connection between early clamping and a reduced risk of hemorrhaging, but a new study suggests that delayed cord clamping could offer a number of benefits. The study also refutes the notion that delayed clamping raises IQ.

Does Delayed Cord Clamping Benefit Babies?

Some previous research has found immediate benefits to delayed cord clamping, such as higher iron levels. The new study, published in JAMA Pediatrics, suggests that the benefits of delayed clamping may persist well beyond infancy.

Researchers looked at 263 healthy full-term babies, dividing them into two groups. One group underwent traditional cord clamping, with the umbilical cord clamped within 10 seconds after birth. The other group had their umbilical cords clamped after three minutes. Four years later, the researchers administered a battery of tests designed to test the children’s social skills, IQ, coordination, problem-solving, communication skills, and overall behavior. Children whose cord clamping was delayed had slightly higher scores on tests of social and fine motor skills, but there was no difference in IQ between the two groups.

When the researchers separated the groups by sex, though, they found that only boys experienced statistically significant benefits. Though they’re unsure why, the team speculates that higher estrogen levels in utero may offer more protection to girls.

The transition to life outside the womb is understandably shocking to newborns. The study’s authors suggest that delayed cord clamping may diminish the shock. Specifically, they say that allowing more blood to transfer from the placenta to the baby could be why delayed cord clamping is beneficial. In some cases, newborns experience gains in blood volume of up to a third—a boost that could be especially helpful to premature babies.


Haelle, T. (2015, May 26). Delayed umbilical cord clamping may benefit children years later. Retrieved from

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  • Derek


    May 27th, 2015 at 4:44 PM

    this is… well, weird… I have never heard of this before

  • douglas


    May 28th, 2015 at 3:41 AM

    I think that we will find over the course of many studies that the more of a connection that a newborn is able to maintain with their mother, via delayed cord cutting, breastfeeding, etc, the more successful and intelligent that this child is going to grow up to be.

  • Frieda


    May 28th, 2015 at 10:50 AM

    I am not too sure how I feel about this. It actually seems that it would be more dangerous for both the mom and the baby to delay this which is typically done so quickly. I am sure that there is medical validity to this otherwise we wouldn’t even be discussing it, but I guess because it IS from a different school of thought that it is simply a little strange to even consider that this could become the norm.

  • Darcy


    May 29th, 2015 at 11:41 AM

    Again, another one of those decisions that is best left to each couple and their doctor. If it is perfectly healthy to do it either way then they are the ones who should have the deciding vote.

  • kada


    May 30th, 2015 at 9:33 AM

    My sister in law is pregnant right now and I know that there are things that you don’t even think about until you are pregnant yourself and reading about the newest trends and the latest schools of thoughts on child rearing. I haven’t heard her say anything about it and she is generally the first to search for anything that will improve the well being of her babies, but you know, this might be something that is so new that word hasn’t gotten out yet about just how beneficial this could be.

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