e-Library of Evidence for Nutrition Actions (eLENA)

Optimal timing of cord clamping for the prevention of iron deficiency anaemia in infants

At the time of birth, an 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 umbilical cord.

Early cord clamping is generally carried out in the first 60 seconds after birth, whereas later cord clamping is carried out more than one minute after the birth or when cord pulsation has ceased.

Delaying cord clamping allows blood flow between the placenta and neonate to continue, which may improve iron status in the infant for up to six months after birth. This may be particularly relevant for infants living in low-resource settings with reduced access to iron-rich foods.

WHO recommendations

Delayed umbilical cord clamping (not earlier than 1 min after birth) is recommended for improved maternal and infant health and nutrition outcomes.


This is a summary of WHO recommendations on optimal timing of cord clamping. The full set of recommendations can be found in 'Full set of recommendations' and in the guidelines, under ‘WHO documents’ below.

WHO documents

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines


Systematic reviews used to develop the guidelines
Related systematic reviews
Clinical trials

Last update:

15 June 2017 14:51 CEST

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee