In many Western hospitals, the umbilical cord is clamped and cut within the first minute of birth. This is too soon, according to new research published in the British Medical Journal. Researchers recommend delaying clamping for three minutes after delivery as this may prevent iron deficiency in the first few months after birth, and waiting doesn’t cause any negative health effects.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is also currently an advocate for delayed cord clamping (1 to 3 minutes after delivery). The organization says waiting to cut the umbilical cord improves the iron status of the child. Previous research studies (11 trials in total, involving 2989 moms and their babies) have indicated that late cord clamping and cutting significantly improved the newborn’s hemoglobin (iron-rich protein that carries oxygen) and ferritin (iron-carrying protein) levels.
In the recent study, Swedish researchers examined 400 full-term infants and split them into two groups: early clamping (the umbilical cord was clamped and cut 10 seconds after delivery) and delayed clamping (the clamping and cutting didn’t occur until 3 minutes after birth). The infants’ iron status was checked shortly after birth, at 48 to 72 hours after birth, and then at four months old.