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Baby Position Can Reduce Incidence of Iron Deficiency during Infancy

Update Date: Apr 18, 2014 11:06 AM EDT

According to a new study, changing one simple step during deliveries can benefit the health of a newborn child. Researchers discovered that if mothers held their infants in a different stance immediately afterbirth, delayed cord-clamping time can still be effective. Clamping the cord later has been tied to reducing the incidence of iron deficiency in newborns.

In this new study, researchers examined the effects of changing how a mother holds her newborn immediately afterbirth. The researchers from Argentina knew that delayed cord-clamping by two minutes allows more blood to flow through the placenta to the baby, which reduces the risk of iron deficiency during infancy. Currently, mothers are instructed to hold the baby at the same level as the placenta to allow delayed cord-clamping. Researchers believed that this position helped the blood flow to the baby. However, this position can be awkward and uncomfortable. It also prevents any immediate contact between the mother and child.

In order to improve this position without hindering the clamping time or the blood flow, the researchers recruited 391 newborns. 197 of them were held according to the current recommended position. The remaining 194 babies were positioned on the mother's stomach or chest instead. The researchers discovered that both groups of babies received similar amounts of blood that was transferred from the mother's placenta. The researchers concluded that holding the baby closer by the stomach or chest can be as effective in reducing the risk of iron deficiency as the current recommended position.

"Our study suggests that when umbilical cord clamping is delayed for two minutes, holding the baby on the mother's chest or abdomen is no worse than the currently recommended practice of holding the baby below this level," lead author Nestor Vain, of the Foundation for Maternal and Child Health in Buenos Aires reported by WebMD. "Because of the potential of enhanced bonding between mother and baby, increased success of breast-feeding and the compliance with the procedure, holding the infant by the mother immediately after birth should be strongly recommended."

The study, "Effect of gravity on volume of placental transfusion: a multicentre, randomised, non-inferiority trial," was published in The Lancet.

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