Healthy newborn babies are less likely to develop an iron deficiency if the umbilical cord is kept in place for three minutes at birth, according to a new study published in the British Journal of Medicine by Umeå University researcher Magnus Domellöf and partners.
Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia are major public health problems in young children worldwide, and are associated with poor neurodevelopment. Studies in Africa and South America, where iron deficiency is most common, have shown that delays umbilical cord clamping improves irons status in infants, but it was unclear whether the delayed clamping is also beneficial in Sweden and other well-nourished countries. Due to this lack of knowledge, hospitals have different guidelines and best practices regarding clamping.
Associate Professor Magnus Domellöf, at Umeå University's Department of Clinical Sciences, paediatrics unit, has conducted a clinical study comparing the effects of early and late umbilical cord clamping together with Ola Andersson, at the Hospital of Halland, in Halmstad, southern Sweden.
A total of tested 400 babies were tested-- some who had their umbilical cords clamped after at least three minutes and others who had them clamped less than 10 seconds after delivery. The babies whose umbilical clamping was delayed benefited from higher iron levels at four months.
For every 20 babies whose cords are clamped three minutes or more after birth, one case of iron deficiency would be prevented. There also were fewer cases of neonatal anaemia in those with delayed clamping.
There were no adverse health effects from delayed clamping, according to the findings, published in the British Medical Journal. The researchers concluded that delayed cord clamping should be considered as standard care for full term deliveries after uncomplicated pregnancies, even in developed countries.