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Research explained

Randomised controlled trial: effect of delayed versus early umbilical cord clamping on neonatal outcomes and iron status at 4 months

  • By: Candice L Downey, Susan Bewley
  • Published: 08 May 2012
  • DOI: 10.1136/sbmj.e2761
  • Cite this as: BMJ 2012;20:e2761

The optimal timing of umbilical cord clamping after birth is debated. In this study the authors define delayed cord clamping as more than three minutes after delivery and early clamping as within 10 seconds of birth. Delayed clamping has been linked with a decreased risk of iron deficiency anaemia because it allows physiological transfusion of placental blood to the neonate. This is important because childhood anaemia might be associated with poor neurodevelopment. Uncommon adverse effects of deferring clamping can include polycythaemia, hyperbilirubinaemia, and respiratory problems. Most of the available cord clamping data, however, come from studies done in low and middle income countries. Much of the evidence is low quality. The aim of this trial was to provide robust evidence for delayed versus early umbilical cord clamping in infants born in a high income country, Sweden.

The authors used eligibility criteria to eliminate confounding factors they could predict, such as

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