There has been an increasing number of studies done in regards to the timing of cord clamping. A 16 month study published in 2006 was conducted by UC Davis nutrition professor Kathryn Dewey and nutrition graduate student Camila Chaparro at a large obstetrical hospital in Mexico City.
In the UC Davis study, the researchers set out to specifically evaluate whether delayed clamping improves iron status of full-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 standard obstetric practice in various settings.
"By simply delaying cord clamping for this brief time, we can provide the infant with the extra blood, and the iron it contains, from the placenta," said Dewey, an expert in maternal and infant nutrition. "This is an efficient, low-cost way to intervene at birth without harm to the infant or the mother."
The UC Davis study was funded by the Thrasher Research Fund and a grant from the U.S. Fulbright program. You can read more here.
Below is a video on delayed cord clamping, hosted by Penny Simkin, she is a physical therapist who has specialized in childbirth education and labor support since 1968.
Please Note: Cord Blood Donations - Currently there is no organization that collects donated cord blood on Vancouver Island. Canadian Blood Services is running a trial collection in some hospitals located in Ontario, Edmonton and Vancouver. If you are in any of these areas, please contact them for more information: 1-888-236-6283
Placenta Donations - Victoria General Hospital is currently accepting placenta donations for research. If you are interested in donating your placenta, please let your caregiver know and mention it again to your labour nurse after delivery.