Iron deficiency is the most common micronutrient deficiency in the world. It affects around 1.62 billion people and children under 4 are particularly susceptible. Iron deficiency can affect brain development in children by causing structural changes and function of the central nervous system (the spinal cord and brain) so there is a link between iron deficiency anaemia and poor cognitive development. The only way we can carry oxygen is via red blood cells, so the body will prioritise the available iron to the red blood cells over other organs. A baby obviously has a lot of growing and developing to do which is why they really need blood and iron stores.
Studies from infancy through to early adulthood suggest that socioemotional development is specifically vulnerable to iron deficiency anaemia and the effects of early iron deficiencies may be irreversible. So, what can you do to help prevent your baby from becoming anaemic? Simply delay cord clamping at birth. All births should have delayed cord clamping of a very minimum of 1 minute, ideally longer. If you are planning on having cord blood banking, delaying cord clamping should not affect this or interrupt this.
Successful newborn transition is dependent on having enough blood volume for respiratory function and independence. In other words, your baby has been entirely reliant on the placenta for oxygen, nutrients and eliminating waste. Birth can be uncomfortable and daunting for babies. They now need to do everything for themselves, regulate their own temperature, breathe and oxygenate their organs. So, their last remaining connection to their mum shouldn’t be hurried to be cut.
RCM recommendations state a minimum delay of 1 minute but for the baby to receive the full adequate transfusion 5 minutes is preferable. In mammalian birth there is always a rest period when the cord is left alone and it’s only in recent times that interference has crept in with human birth.