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Delay in Clamping Umbilical Cord Beneficial to Infant

Hematologic, iron status improved in first six months of life

TUESDAY, March 20 (HealthDay News) -- A delay in clamping the umbilical cord of a full-term infant by at least two minutes improves their hematologic and iron status and lowers their risk of anemia at 2 to 6 months of age, according to a meta-analysis in the March 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Eileen K. Hutton, Ph.D., from McMaster University in Hamilton, Ontario, and Eman S. Hassan, from the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, Canada, identified and performed a meta-analysis of 15 controlled clinical trials comparing the benefits of early or late umbilical cord clamping in 1,912 infants born at 37 weeks' gestation or more. Clamping was performed immediately after birth in most of the 911 early clamping cases, while clamping was delayed for at least two minutes in the 1,001 late clamping cases.

The researchers found that late clamping was beneficial after two to six months, with improved hematologic status (hematocrit), iron status (ferritin concentration), and stored iron, as well as a lower risk of anemia (relative risk 0.53). However, late clamping was also associated with an increased risk of asymptomatic polycythemia (relative risk 3.82).

The study "provides evidence that favors delaying clamping for at least two minutes after birth of a full-term infant," William Oh, M.D., from Brown Medical School and Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, R.I., writes in an accompanying editorial.

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