Waiting three minutes or longer before clamping a newborn’s umbilical cord reduces the prevalence of iron deficiency in babies at four months, a large trial has found.Swedish researchers studied 334 infants, randomly assigning half to have their cords clamped within 10 seconds of birth and the rest to clamping after three minutes or longer. The two groups were statistically identical in gestational age, head circumference, health and age of the mother, and other characteristics.
Dr. Ola Andersson, the lead author and a pediatrician at the Hospital of Halland in Halmstad, Sweden, pointed out that there were no adverse effects to delayed clamping.
“Many obstetricians worry about jaundice, and most believe that delayed clamping causes it,” he said. But he and his colleagues found no difference in rates of jaundice.
The study, published in November of 2011 in the journal British Medical Journal, is one of the largest randomized trials of delayed cord clamping and the first to assess iron status beyond the neonatal period in a high-income country.