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

Late cord clamping approximately (one to three minutes after birth) is recommended for all births while initiating simultaneous essential newborn care.

Early cord clamping (less than one minute after birth) is not recommended unless the neonate is asphyxiated and needs to be moved immediately for resuscitation.

WHO documents

GRC-approved guidelines


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Last update:

23 October 2014 12:37 CEST

Category 1 intervention

Guidelines have been recently approved by the WHO Guidelines Review Committee