Late cord clamping increases iron levels in newborns

Research finds that babies receive more iron if the umbilical cord is left attached for several minutes after birth

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Delaying clamping the umbilical cord when a baby is born increases the benefits to the baby, according to research by The Cochrane Library.

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Researchers found that the babies’ blood and iron levels were better when the cord was clamped later.

In the UK, most newborns are clamped less than a minute after birth. This is to reduce risk of the baby developing jaundice. But, in light of this new research, the World Health Organisation is recommending cords should be clamped two to three minutes after birth.

The NHS is now being called to rethink current policy, in line with the World Health Organisation’s new recommendation.

The Cochrane Library’s study looked at data from 15 trials involving 3,911 women and babies. It found while clamping later made no difference to maternal haemorrhaging, babies had higher haemoglobin levels and were less likely to be iron-decificient at three-to-six-months old.

Belinda Phipps, chief executive of the National Childbirth Trust (NCT) said, “It is becoming increasingly clear that things need to change.

“As is explained in this research, when a baby is born around a third of the baby’s blood is still in their cord and placenta, and clamping the cord early reduces the iron available to the baby,” she said.

Patrick O’Brien, a spokesman for the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists told the Guardian that, while he backed clamping later, “in some instances early clamping may be required, such as when the mother is suffering heavy blood loss immediately after childbirth, or in cases where the baby needs immediate resuscitation, so the decision on when to cut the cord must be based on the clinical assessment of the situation.”

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