New research released in October 2011 shows male rats with severe iron deficiency have reduced concentrations of extra cellular dopamine in the prefrontal cortex. This has demonstrated anxious behaviour and reduced motor function as measured on a standard accelerating rotarod device.
Because we have a large amount of research suggesting low iron levels in infants are significantly related to early cord clamping, could low iron levels caused by early cord clamping actually be the cause of some behavioural problems and/or even learning disabilities in our young children? We are only beginning to understand the effects of long term iron deficiency. Severe iron deficiency at a time of significant growth and development in a persons life will have a vital effect on how that person matures, both physically and mentally. (5)
www.cord-clamping.com writes, “Research by the Dr Judith Mercer is a leading expert on cord clamping and has produced an extensive amount of evidence regarding the benefits of delayed clamping for both full term and very preterm infants. With colleagues, her review of the available literature showed that delayed cord clamping produced higher blood pressure, higher hematocrit levels, more optimal oxygen transport and higher red blood cell flow to vital organs, reduced infant anaemia and increased duration of breastfeeding. For very preterm infants, the benefits also included fewer days on oxygen and ventilation, fewer transfusions, and lower rates of intraventricular hemorrhage and late-onset sepsis.” (2)(3)
Combining this research with previous studies only highlights in greater detail the importance of delayed cord clamping and the significance it has on a persons mental and physical future. If you or anyone you know is expecting a child, be sure to include ‘Delay Cord Clamping by 20 Minutes’ to your birth plan to ensure your newborn has the opportunity to start life with a full supply of iron and other nutrients, exactly how nature intended.
(1) Severe postnatal iron deficiency alters emotional behavior and dopamine levels in the prefrontal cortex of young male rats. J Nutr. 2011 Dec;141(12):2133-8. Epub 2011 Oct 19. Li Y, Kim J, Buckett PD, Böhlke M, Maher TJ, Wessling-Resnick M.
Source Department of Genetics and Complex Diseases, Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA.
Iron deficiency in early human life is associated with abnormal neurological development. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effect of postnatal iron deficiency on emotional behavior and dopaminergic metabolism in the prefrontal cortex in a young male rodent model. Weanling, male, Sprague-Dawley rats were fed standard nonpurified diet (220 mg/kg iron) or an iron-deficient diet (2-6 mg/kg iron). After 1 mo, hematocrits were 0.42 ± 0.0043 and 0.16 ± 0.0068 (mean ± SEM; P < 0.05; n = 8), liver nonheme iron concentrations were 2.3 ± 0.24 and 0.21 ± 0.010 μmol/g liver (P < 0.05; n = 8), and serum iron concentrations were 47 ± 5.4 and 23 ± 7.1 μmol/L (P < 0.05; n = 8), respectively. An elevated plus maze was used to study emotional behavior. Iron-deficient rats displayed anxious behavior with fewer entries and less time spent in open arms compared to control rats (0.25 ± 0.25 vs. 1.8 ± 0.62 entries; 0.88 ± 0.88 vs. 13 ± 4.6 s; P < 0.05; n = 8). Iron-deficient rats also traveled with a lower velocity in the elevated plus maze (1.2 ± 0.15 vs. 1.7 ± 0.12 cm/s; P < 0.05; n = 8), behavior that reflected reduced motor function as measured on a standard accelerating rotarod device. Both the time on the rotarod bar before falling and the peak speed attained on rotarod by iron-deficient rats were lower than control rats (156 ± 12 vs. 194 ± 12 s; 23 ± 1.5 vs. 28 ± 1.6 rpm; P < 0.05; n = 7-8). Microdialysis experiments showed that these behavioral effects were associated with reduced concentrations of extracellular dopamine in the prefrontal cortex of the iron-deficient rats (79 ± 7.0 vs. 110 ± 14 ng/L; P < 0.05; n = 4). Altered dopaminergic signaling in the prefrontal cortex most likely contributes to the anxious behavior observed in young male rats with severe iron deficiency.
(2) Mercer J. Current best evidence: a review of the literature on umbilical cord clamping. J Midwifery Womens Health2001 Nov-Dec;46(6):402-14
(3) Mercer, J. et al, Delayed Cord Clamping in Very Preterm Infants Reduces the Incidence of Intraventricular Hemorrhage and Late-Onset Sepsis: A Randomized, Controlled Trial. Pediatrics Vol. 117 No. 4 April 1, 2006
pp. 1235 -1242 (doi: 10.1542/peds.2005-1706)
(4) Andersson, O et al. Effect of delayed versus early umbilical cord clamping on neonatal outcomes and iron status at 4 months: a randomised controlled trial BMJ 2011; 343 doi: 10.1136/bmj.d7157 (Published 15 November 2011)
(5) Heird WC. The feeding of infants and children. In: Kliegman RM, Behrman RE, Jenson HB, Stanton BF, eds. Nelson Textbook of Pediatrics. 18th Ed. Philadelphia, Pa: Saunders Elsevier; 2007: chap 42.