A new study shows that waiting to clamp the umbilical cord after infants are born offers lasting health benefits.

Compared with infants who had clamping of the umbilical cord within a minute after birth, late clamping led to higher hemoglobin levels one to two days after birth and were less likely to be iron deficient 3-6 months after birth. They also had higher birth weights.

Doctors routinely clamp and sever the umbilical cord quickly after birth, a practice believed to lower the risk of severe bleeding in the mother. But this new study found waiting allows more time for blood to flow from the placenta and helps boost iron and hemoglobin levels in newborns, without increasing the risks to mothers,

The review, in the Cochrane Library, supports a World Health Organization recommendation that the optimal time for cord clamping is up to 3 minutes after birth. It said early cord clamping, "is still widely practised in high-income countries, although relative timing of each individual component of the strategy varies."

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