The findings came up with a study conducted by Kathryn Dewey, nutrition professor at University of California, Davis, and nutrition graduate student Camila Chaparro at a large obstetrical hospital in Mexico City: "By simply delaying cord clamping for this brief time, we can provide the infant with the extra blood, and the iron it contains, from the placenta," Dewey said. "This is an efficient, low-cost way to intervene at birth without harm to the infant or the mother."

The 16-month-long study was conducted at Hospital de Gineco Obstetrica in Mexico City, in collaboration with Mexico's National Institute of Public Health. A total of 476 normal-weight, full-term infants and their mothers were involved in the study. Each mother-child pair was randomly assigned to have the umbilical cord clamped at either ten seconds or two minutes after the baby's shoulders were delivered.

Data on the infants' diet, growth and illnesses were collected when the children were two, four and six months old. Iron status of the babies also was measured at birth and at the end of the study. The study revealed that a two-minute delay in cord clamping at birth significantly increased the child's iron status at six months of age, and it documented for the first time that the beneficial effects of delayed cord clamping last beyond the age of three months.

This also was the first study to show that the impact of delayed clamping is enhanced in infants that have low birth weights, are born to iron-deficient mothers, or do not receive baby formula or iron-fortified milk.

"The data show that the two-minute delay in cord clamping increased the child's iron reserve by 27-47 mg of iron, which is equivalent to one to two months of infant iron requirements," Dewey said. "This could help to prevent iron deficiency from developing before six months of age, when iron-fortified foods could be introduced."

MEDICA.de; Source: University of California, Davis