Dr. Philippa Middleton of Adelaide University and colleagues said policies for timing of cord clamping vary, with early cord clamping generally carried out in the first 60 seconds after birth, whereas later cord clamping usually occurred more than a minute after the birth or when cord pulsation has ceased.
The meta-analysis looked at15 studies involving 3,911 women and their babies.
The study, published in the Cochrane Library, showed clamping the umbilical cord later made no difference to the risk of maternal hemorrhaging, blood loss or hemoglobin levels, but the babies were healthier in a number of ways.
When cord cutting was delayed, babies had higher hemoglobin levels one to two days after birth and were less likely to be iron deficient three to six months after birth, the study found. In addition, birth weight was also higher with delayed cord clamping. However, fewer infants in the early cord clamping group required phototherapy for jaundice than in the late cord clamping group, the study said.
Delayed cord clamping is likely to be beneficial as long as access to treatment for jaundice requiring phototherapy is available, the researchers concluded.