Delaying cord clamping prevents iron deficiency

October 1, 2006

Waiting 2 minutes-rather than 10 seconds-after delivery of an infant's shoulders to clamp the umbilical cord of normal-weight, full-term infants helps prevent iron deficiency from developing before 6 months of age, according to the results of a randomized, controlled trial involving almost 400 mother-infant pairs in Mexico City

Waiting 2 minutes-rather than 10 seconds-after delivery of an infant's shoulders to clamp the umbilical cord of normal-weight, full-term infants helps prevent iron deficiency from developing before 6 months of age, according to the results of a randomized, controlled trial involving almost 400 mother-infant pairs in Mexico City.

The authors of the study found that at 6 months of age, the infants with delayed clamping had significantly higher mean corpuscular volume (81.0 fL vs. 79.5 fL; 95% CI; –2.5 to –0.6; P=0.001), ferritin (50.7 µg/L vs. 34.4 µg/L; 95% CI; –30.7 to –1.9; P=0.0002), and total body iron, and had iron stores that were increased by about 27 to 47 mg. The effect was greater for babies born to mothers with low iron at delivery, breastfed babies not receiving iron-fortified formula, and infants born weighing between 2,500 g and 3,000 g.

The researchers noted that a 2-minute delay coincides roughly with the cessation of cord pulsations and, thus, allows most of the blood from the placenta to transfer to the infant. They also noted no increased risk of neonatal polycythemia or jaundice-commonly mentioned deterrents to delayed clamping.