Waiting a few minutes before clamping the umbilical cord after birth could boost iron stores in the baby's blood. However, delayed clamping could increase the infant's risk of jaundice, states a new review of studies.
Researchers led by Susan McDonald a professor of midwifery at La Trobe University and the Mercy Hospital for Women in Melbourne, Australia, analysed 11 studies.
They evaluated the benefits to mother and child if clamping was delayed until after the cord stops pulsing, a sign that blood is no longer flowing between the mother's placenta and the baby.
They found that newborns in the delayed-clamping group had larger stores of iron in their blood, something that can influence health, particularly an infant's risk for anemia in the first months of life.
However, the researchers also noted that babies in the delayed-clamping group were more vulnerable to jaundice.
Most newborn jaundice subsides without treatment or is treated with simple exposure to sunlight.
The review found that infants in the delayed-clamping group had a higher risk for jaundice that needed extra treatment with phototherapy.
The review appears in the latest issue of The Cochrane Library, a publication of The Cochrane Collaboration, an international organization that evaluates medical research.