Accordingly, delay in cutting the umbilical cord by a couple of minutes can have a beneficial effect that lasts for several months.
In developed countries the tendency of doctors is to cut the umbilical cord as soon as possible, in order to supposedly avoid respiratory problems and allow the mother to hold her baby without delay.
On the contrary, in developing countries, a longer time ensues before the umbilical cord is severed.
The difference of just 2 minutes can make a lot of difference; say researchers led by Eileen Hutton of McMaster University, Canada.
According to them, when the baby is connected to the umbilical cord and placenta for some more time, uterine contractions force more blood into its body. This is highly beneficial they say, as more blood means more red and white blood cells.
While higher amounts of red blood cells means lesser chances of anemia and higher iron reserves, more white cells mean more number of 'soldiers' to battle infections.
By pooling the data from the 15 mainly small studies she could find on the subject, Hutton and co-author Eman Hassan concluded in the Journal of the American Medical Association that the evidence showed statistically significant lowering of anemia rates in babies who were clamped late, but no real increased risk of serious polycythemia (the opposite of anemia when blood becomes too thick and does not flow well) in those same babies.
"The iron stores were increased out to six months of age. Basically you can imagine it's giving your baby a better start. And the significance is not just at the time the baby's born, it lasts quite a long period of time", says Hutton.
Yet more widespread and randomized clinical trials would be necessary before this becomes a norm, the authors noted.