Newborn lungs exist in a “compacted state” suitable for the womb. When the infant is born, the placenta and cord pulse for up to 20 minutes, delivering a burst of blood volume to the infant’s system. This blood burst is just what is needed for the lungs of the newborn to expand.
Unfortunately, many hospitals and doctors don’t understand the mechanics of this and are engaging in early umbilical cord clamping — often within one minute of birth.
Without the burst of blood from the placenta, the infant suffers a drop in blood pressure as its lungs fail to open as they should, creating a chain reaction of effects that can include brain damage and lung damage. Immediate cord clamping can cause hypotension, hypovolemia and infant anemia, resulting in cognitive deficits. Some have even theorized that the rise in autism could be linked at least in part to early cord clamping.
*Archives of Disease in Childhood — Fetal and Neonatal Edition 2008; 93: F77