Study Results Encourage Iron-Rich Foods Early in Infancy

December 6, 2010

Assessing infant iron deficiency through four to ten months of age.

A diet rich in iron should be considered for babies earlier than later, according to new research published in the December issue of Clinical Nutrition.

In a secondary analysis of results from a complimentary feeding trial, German researchers assessed the occurrence of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in breast-fed infants (n=53) and infants fed an iron-fortified formula (n=23) during their first four months of life.

Iron intake was measured at four months of age (full breastfeeding period) and during a 7-to-10-month complementary feeding stage, at which point all infants were fed according to pediatric dietary guidelines.

At four months, three infants in the breast-fed group and one in the formula-fed group were considered iron deficient. Iron deficiency anemia was not developed by any infants at this time.

At seven months, iron intake was judged sufficient in all formula-fed infants; however, iron deficiency detected and iron deficiency anemia was detected in 10 and 2 breast-fed infants, respectively.

“This finding supports the recommendation that supplementation with bioavailable iron via complementary foods should be started early (4–6 months of age) in order to prevent iron deficiency during infancy,” concluded the researchers.

Read the full abstract of this study here.