The optimal timing for clamping the umbilical cord after birth has been a subject of controversy and debate. Although many randomized controlled trials in term and preterm infants have evaluated the benefits of delayed umbilical cord clamping versus immediate umbilical cord clamping, the ideal timing for cord clamping has yet to be established. Several systematic reviews have suggested that clamping the umbilical cord in all births should be delayed for at least 30-60 seconds, with the infant maintained at or below the level of the placenta because of the associated neonatal benefits, including increased blood volume, reduced need for blood transfusion, decreased incidence of intracranial hemorrhage in preterm infants, and lower frequency of iron deficiency anemia in term infants. Evidence exists to support delayed umbilical cord clamping in preterm infants, when feasible. The single most important clinical benefit for preterm infants is the possibility for a nearly 50% reduction in intraventricular hemorrhage. However, currently, evidence is insufficient to confirm or refute the potential for benefits from delayed umbilical cord clamping in term infants, especially in settings with rich resources.
(C) 2012 The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists