Obstetricians have been urged not to rush to clamp the umbilical cord too soon after a baby's birth, with a retired UK doctor suggesting doing so could be harmful to the baby.
Early clamping and cutting of the umbilical cord is considered standard in many Western births, despite World Health Organization and the International Federation of Gynecology and Obstetrics guidelines suggesting these practices be delayed.
Waiting even three minutes longer could allow for more of the nutrient-rich umbilical cord blood to flow into the baby's bloodstream, reducing the risk of anaemia and iron deficiency, the UK's Daily Mail reported.
Writing in the British Medical Journal, retired consultant obstetrician Dr David Hutchon questioned why midwives and obstetricians were still so eager to clamp and cut.
Dr Hutchon referred to a 2007 article in the same journal by Dr Andrew Weeks, a senior lecturer in obstetrics at the University of Liverpool, which stated that cord clamping had no benefit to the mother or baby and questioned why it was still in place.
Echoing his sentiments three years later, Dr Hutchon said the UK's National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE) still advocated early clamping, but that changes to their guidelines could result in an "overnight change" in the practice, as practitioners were reluctant to go against NICE procedure.
"Clamping the functioning umbilical cord at birth is an unproven intervention," Dr Hutchon wrote.
"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."