Researchers at the Department of Midwifery at the Islamic Azad University in Iran recently published a simple study on newborn umbilical cord care. The group aimed to find out if applying human milk to the remaining umbilical cord would affect healing/drop off time.
The study evaluated 130 newborns placed randomly into two groups - human milk application and dry cord. The human milk group had breast milk applied to the umbilical cord three times a day in eight-hour intervals. The dry cord group allowed the cord to dry up and fall off naturally with no intervention.
It took about 150 hours for the umbilical cord to drop off in the human milk group and 180 hours in the drug cord group - give or take 28 to 37 hours. The results clearly show that human milk application to the healing umbilical cord reduces healing time by about one full day.
Source: Aghamohammadi A, Zafari M, Moslemi L. Comparing the effect of topical application of human milk and dry cord care on umbilical cord separation time in healthy newborn infants. Iran J Pediatr. 2012 Jun;22(2):158-62.