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Delayed cord clamping can prevent newborns from iron deficiency

November 16, 2011 - London

Waiting for at least three minutes before clamping the umbilical cord in healthy newborns could improve their iron levels at four months and protect them from iron deficiency, a new study has revealed.

Delaying cord clamping is not linked to neonatal Jaundice or other adverse health effects and should be standard care after uncomplicated pregnancies, according to the study.

Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anaemia are major public health problems in young children around the world and are associated with poor neurodevelopment.

Young children are at particular risk due to their high iron requirements during rapid growth.

While established research indicates that delayed cord clamping could prevent iron deficiency there are conflicting results regarding the risk of neonatal Jaundice and other health problems.

So the authors led by Ola Andersson, consultant in neonatology at the Hospital of Halland in Sweden, and Magnus Domellof, associate professor of paediatrics at Umea University, investigated the effects of delayed cord clamping, compared to early clamping, on the iron status of infants at four months of age in a Swedish county hospital.

Four hundred full term infants born after low-risk pregnancies were involved in the study. Some had their umbilical cords clamped after at least three minutes and others had them clamped in less than ten seconds after delivery.

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

The researchers estimated that, for every 20 babies having delayed clamping, one case of iron deficiency would be prevented, regardless of whether the baby also had anaemia. Furthermore, delayed cord clamping was not associated with any adverse health effects.

The finding has been just published on British Medical Journal website.


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