12/11/2010 12:42 GMT | Updated 22/05/2015 10:12 BST

Cutting Umbilical Cord Too Soon Could Be Damaging, Says Expert

A childbirth expert has called for midwives and doctors to stop clamping babies' umbilical cords immediately after birth and delay it for a few minutes.

Waiting for three minutes could allow more blood to flow to the newborn baby and reduce the risk of iron deficiency and anaemia in newborns.

Both the World Health Organisation and the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics advise doctors to refrain from early cord clamping. Three years ago, experts called for changes in British guidelines to bring them in line with these recommendation, but still nothing has been done.

Writing in the British Medical Journal, retired obstetrician from Darlington Memorial Hospital Dr Hutchen said: 'Clamping the functioning umbilical cord at birth is an unproved intervention. Lack of awareness of current evidence, pragmatism, and conflicting guidelines are all preventing change. To prevent further injury to babies we would be better to rush to change.'

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) still advocates active management, which includes early clamping and cutting off the cord. These guidelines mean that doctors are reluctant to change their practices.

A spokeswoman for NICE said they would be reviewing their guidelines on treating women in labour early next year.