DEA Lookup.com News

Return to News Home


Waiting to cut umbilical cord helps baby's iron

Healthy newborns have better iron levels after four months if their umbilical cords aren't clamped immediately, a new study suggests.


CBC News, Nov 16, 2011

Healthy newborns have better iron levels after four months if their umbilical cords aren't clamped immediately, a new study suggests.

Traditionally, the umbilical cord was clamped early - between 10 seconds to one minute after birth - to prevent postpartum hemorrhage. But a review of research published in 2008 found no threats to women from delayed clamping.

To investigate the effects of delaying clamping, Swedish researchers randomly assigned 400 full-term infants who were born after low-risk pregnancies to early or late clamping.

Some had their umbilical cords clamped after three minutes and others had them clamped less than 10 seconds after delivery.

Babies who experienced delayed clamping had better iron levels at four months of age and there were fewer cases of neonatal anemia, Magnus Domellof, a professor of pediatrics at Umea University and his co-authors said in Wednesday's issue of the British Medical Journal.

The researchers estimated that for every 20 babies having delayed clamping, one case of iron deficiency would be prevented.

"As iron deficiency in infants even without anemia has been associated with impaired development, delayed cord clamping seems to benefit full term infants even in regions with a relatively low prevalence of iron deficiency anemia," the study's authors concluded.

Iron deficiency anemia is a major public health problem in young children globally that is linked with poor brain development.

Worldwide, about a quarter of preschool children have iron deficiency anemia, the most severe form of iron deficiency, the researchers said. In Europe, the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia is three to seven per cent.

The findings suggest that the timing of clamping should be documented, Dr. Patrick van Rheenen, a consultant pediatrician at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, suggested in a journal editorial accompanying the study.

"The balance of maternal risks and infant benefits of delayed cord clamping now clearly favours the child. How much more evidence is needed to convince obstetricians and midwives that it is worth while to wait for three minutes to allow for placental transfusion, even in developed countries? Andersson and colleagues' study is convincing enough to encourage a change of practice," van Rheenen concluded.

Return to News Home