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Infants have better iron reserves if umbilical cord clamping is delayed

l-term, normal-birth-weight infants during their first six months. The researchers also examined whether delayed clamping has greater impact among children who are already at increased risk of developing iron deficiency due to low birth weight or an iron-deficient 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 10 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 2, 4 and 6 months old. Iron status of the babies also was measured at birth and at the end of the study.

Of the original group, 358 mother-child pairs completed the study.

The study revealed that a two-minute delay in cord clamping at birth significantly increased the child's iron status at 6 months of age, and it documented for the first time that the beneficial effects of delayed cord clamping last beyond the age of 3 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 6 months of age, when iron-fortified foods could be introduced."

Dewey and Chaparro are planning their next stage of research: developing practical guidelines for incorporating the delayed clamping of the umbilical cord into sta
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