The Lancet 2006; 367:1997-2004
Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping on iron status in Mexican infants: a randomised controlled trial
Camila M Chaparro PhD , Lynnette M Neufeld PhD , Gilberto Tena Alavez MD , Raúl Eguia-Líz Cedillo MD and Dr, Prof Kathryn G Dewey PhD
Delayed clamping of the umbilical cord increases the infant's iron endowment at birth and haemoglobin concentration at 2 months of age. We aimed to assess whether a 2-minute delay in the clamping of the umbilical cord of normal-weight, full-term infants improved iron and haematological status up to 6 months of age.
476 mother-infant pairs were recruited at a large obstetrics hospital in Mexico City, Mexico, randomly assigned to delayed clamping (2 min after delivery of the infant's shoulders) or early clamping (around 10 s after delivery), and followed up until 6 months postpartum. Primary outcomes were infant haematological status and iron status at 6 months of age, and analysis was by intention-to-treat. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, number NCT00298051.
358 (75%) mother-infant pairs completed the trial. At 6 months of age, infants who had delayed clamping had significantly higher mean corpuscular volume (81·0 fL vs 79·5 fL 95% CI −2·5 to −0·6, p=0.001), ferritin (50·7 μg/L vs 34·4 μg/L 95% CI −30·7 to −1·9, p=0·0002), and total body iron. The effect of delayed clamping was significantly greater for infants born to mothers with low ferritin at delivery, breastfed infants not receiving iron-fortified milk or formula, and infants born with birthweight between 2500 g and 3000 g. A cord clamping delay of 2 minutes increased 6-month iron stores by about 27–47 mg.
Delay in cord clamping of 2 minutes could help prevent iron deficiency from developing before 6 months of age, when iron-fortified complementary foods could be introduced.