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Babies' iron levels boosted by delayed umbilical cord cut

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Delaying the cutting of the umbilical cord in healthy newborns improves their iron levels, according to new research.

After analysing 400 babies about to be born after a low-risk pregnancy, experts found iron levels can be boosted by waiting at least three minutes before clamping the cord.

The study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ), contributes to the debate surrounding the cutting of the cord. Previous research has shown conflicting results on the ideal time for clamping the umbilical cord, although other researchers have found a delay improves iron levels.

The latest research found delaying the clamping is not linked to jaundice or other problems for the baby.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) has no specific recommendation on when the umbilical cord should be clamped, but its scientific opinion paper says: “Infants who have immediate cord clamping have lower iron stores for up to six months after birth.”

It goes on to say: “If there is no need to rush a newborn baby to the resuscitator, simple measures such as drying and keeping warm may be instituted before separating the infant from the placenta.”

The study recommends that delaying clamping should be standard practice.

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