Delay umbilical cord clamp to cut iron deficiency risk

Delaying umbilical cord clamping for three minutes cuts the risk of iron deficiency four months after birth, a study suggests.

Delaying umbilical cord clamping could cut the risk of iron deficiency (Photograph: AJ Photo/SPL)
Delaying umbilical cord clamping could cut the risk of iron deficiency (Photograph: AJ Photo/SPL)

For every 20 babies having delayed clamping one case of iron deficiency could be prevented, regardless of whether the baby had anaemia, researchers estimate.

Delayed clamping is not linked to any additional risk of neonatal jaundice or other adverse effects, they found.

The researchers said delayed cord clamping ‘should be considered as standard care for full-term deliveries after uncomplicated pregnancies.’

Delayed umbilical cord clamping is thought to prevent iron deficiency through blood transfusion from the placenta in the first minutes after birth.

But there has previously been a lack of research into the practice.

A team from the Hospital of Halland in Sweden randomised 400 full-term infants to have late clamping at least three minutes after delivery, or early clamping less than 10 seconds after delivery.

BMJ 2011;343:bmj.d7127

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