Cochrane Summaries

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Effect of timing of umbilical cord clamping of term infants on mother and baby outcomes

McDonald SJ, Middleton P, Dowswell T, Morris PS
Published Online: 
11 July 2013

At the time of birth, the infant is still attached to the mother via the umbilical cord, which is part of the placenta. The infant is usually separated from the placenta by clamping the cord. This clamping is one part of the third stage of labour (the time from birth of the baby until delivery of the placenta) and the timing can vary according to clinical policy and practice. Although early cord clamping has been thought to reduce the risk of bleeding after birth (postpartum haemorrhage), this review of 15 randomised trials involving a total of 3911 women and infant pairs showed no significant difference in postpartum haemorrhage rates when early and late cord clamping (generally between one and three minutes) were compared. There were, however, some potentially important advantages of delayed cord clamping in healthy term infants, such as higher birthweight, early haemoglobin concentration, and increased iron reserves up to six months after birth. These need to be balanced against a small additional risk of jaundice in newborns that requires phototherapy.