Study: Delayed umbilical cord clamping reduces anemia risk

A new study found that delayed umbilical cord clamping can result in a lower prevalence of anemia in 8- and 12-month-olds.

Other studies have shown that delayed umbilical cord clamping can improve iron stores in infants younger than 6 months. But the practice had not been shown to prevent iron deficiency or anemia after 6 months of age.

Researchers in Nepal conducted a randomized clinical trial to find an answer. The study was published in the JAMA Pediatrics journal this month.

The study included 540 preterm and term infants born at Nepal hospital in October and November 2014. Umbilical cord clamping was delayed (more than 3 minutes) in half of the infants. For the other half, umbilical cords were clamped after less than 1 minute.

The researchers followed up with blood levels of hemoglobin and ferritin at 8 and 12 months of age. The follow-up work was done in December 2015.

The study found that the delay resulted in a reduction in the prevalence of anemia by 9 percent at 8 months of age and 8 percent at 12 months of age.

The findings are significant because delayed clamping could have positive effects for infants born in low-resource settings, the researchers said.

Children with anemia and iron deficiency have associated impaired neurodevelopment, affecting cognitive, motor and behavioral abilities. Food fortification and iron supplementation are currently used for treatment, but delayed umbilical cord clamping has been proposed as a low-cost intervention, according to the researchers.

Marissa Harshman

Marissa Harshman

I'm the health reporter for The Columbian newspaper in Vancouver, Wash. I started at The Columbian -- my hometown newspaper -- in September 2009. Reach me at or 360-735-4546.

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