Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping Protects Babies From Iron Deficiency
November 16, 2011

Delayed Umbilical Cord Clamping Protects Babies From Iron Deficiency

According to new research, waiting at least three minutes before clamping the umbilical cord of a newborn baby improves their iron levels at four months.

The study said that delaying cord clamping is not linked to neonatal jaundice or other adverse health effects and should be standard care after uncomplicated pregnancies.

Although other research indicates that delayed cord clamping could prevent iron deficiency, these studies had conflicting results regarding the risk of neonatal jaundice and other health problems.

The researchers investigated the effects of delayed cord clamping to early clamping on the iron status of infants at four months of age in a Swedish county hospital.

There were 400 full term infants born after low-risk pregnancies in the study, some of which had their umbilical cords clamped after at least three minutes while others had them clamped just ten-seconds after delivery.

The team's results found that babies who experienced delayed clamping had better iron levels at four months of age and there were fewer cases of neonatal anemia.

The researchers believe that for every 20 babies having delayed clamping, one case of iron deficiency would be prevented, regardless of whether the baby also had anemia.

The authors believe that delayed cord clamping "should be considered as standard care for full term deliveries after uncomplicated pregnancies."

Dr Patrick van Rheenen, consultant pediatrician at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, said that enough evidence exists to encourage delayed cord clamping.

"The balance of maternal risks and infant benefits of delayed cord clamping now clearly favors the child," Rheenan said in a press release. "How much more evidence is needed to convince obstetricians and midwives that it is worthwhile to wait for three minutes to allow for placental transfusion, even in developed countries?"

The research was published on Monday in the British Medical Journal.


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