Just 90 seconds to change the world - Happy + Well : Happy + Well

Just 90 seconds to change the world

Written by on November 17, 2015 in Digital Health, Wellness with 0 Comments

UnknownWho when they consider their belly button sees it as any more than a fashionable body part that looks good either adorned or not adorned with a tattoo or navel stud, and shown off in mid riff clothing? In fact, our inny or outy is testimony to the great event of our birth; it being the scar at the attachment site of the umbilical cord that connects us to our mother when we’re in the womb. Sure, most of us know this but few probably appreciate the vital role the umbilical cord continues to play in the 90 or so seconds after we’re born.

Just how vital is the subject of this presentation by Dr Alan Greene, a respected and influential paediatrician and leading voice in health innovation. Greene, a much-anticipated keynote at next year’s Happiness & Its Causes and Digital Health Show conferences, begins by describing how key receiving enough oxygen and iron is at the beginning of a child’s life.

Oxygen. “The first minute of life is often called the ‘Golden Minute’ because it’s so important and because there’s a huge difference between babies who get enough oxygen in that first minute after being born and those who don’t.” Greene isn’t kidding. According to WHO, 29 percent of all newborn fatalities are caused by birth asphyxia.

Greene adds, “There’s another million, even more, who get enough to survive but not enough to thrive and they’re left with lifelong consequences like cerebral palsy, epilepsy, learning disabilities and developmental delay.”

Initiatives are ongoing to supply as many delivery rooms as possible with an oxygen canister, or a simple bag and mask, or better still, a certified birth attendant but as Greene says, they’re expensive measures and difficult to implement.

Iron. A problem even more widespread than too little oxygen at birth is too little iron. “It’s what allows our blood to carry oxygen to our brains and organs,” says Greene. “When we don’t have enough iron, we don’t make enough red blood cells.”

What is called iron deficiency anemia “is one of the world’s biggest public health problems affecting, most crucially, people’s intelligence. “About two billion people around the world have lost intelligence because of iron deficiency,” Greene says before sharing the scary statistic that in the US, kids today up to age five have lost nine million IQ points due to too little iron.

Distributing iron supplements and fortifying infant formulas and cereals are two ways the problem is being tackled, but again these solutions are expensive and hard to implement.

Greene now gets to the nub of his talk, and that is that today when a baby is born, the first thing many doctors do is clamp and sever the umbilical cord. Greene says this is madness because the cord contains 30 percent of all the blood that nourishes the baby in utero. If instead doctors waited 90 seconds before cutting the cord, enough blood would be pumped into the baby to eliminate iron deficiency. It’d also provide the newborn with enough oxygen.

That’s not all. Greene says umbilical cord blood is “even richer in white blood cells” which along with mum’s antibodies, help fight infection. Plus cord blood is “packed with stem cells with genetic potential to prevent and repair damage throughout the body.”

Greene’s challenge to mainstream paediatry is Ticc Tocc, a campaign that advocates “transitioning immediate cord clamping to optimal cord clamping … waiting an extra 90 seconds or so until the cord stops pulsing, the way we have for almost all of human history.”

He says, “It’s an idea that’s simple, easy to implement and that costs little or nothing. But it does require that we join together to accomplish it.” How? By requesting optimal cord clamping for our loved ones and spreading the word, especially via social media. Greene says, “Just request it and share it. That’s it. We can change the world.”

Dr Alan Greene is a respected and influential paediatrician, leading voice in health innovation, Chief Medical Officer, Scanadu; Founder of DrGreene.com and author of Raising Baby Green and Feeding Baby Green. He will be presenting at both the Happiness & Its Causes and Digital Health Show conferences in 2016. To register for Happiness & Its Causes, click here. To register for the Digital Health Show, click here.

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