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Iron for infants


Researchers will show that iron supplements given to low birth weight babies (4 to 5.5 pounds) will dramatically reduce the risk of developing anemia. The next issue of Pediatrics will publish the research by Umea researcher Magnus Domellof and others.

Due to particular nutritional requirements, low birth weight babies are at high risk for nutrient deficiencies and all the illnesses that go with them. These babies are very vulnerable particularly in the first year of life while they rapidly grow and use those nutrients. Iron is absolutely necessary for the development of good blood, hemoglobin specifically, and as the carrier of oxygen throughout the body, the brain is highly susceptible to problems caused by lack of iron. It’s not surprising that anemia has been linked to poor neurological development.

The study looked at 285 children of low birth weight divided into groups and given different amounts of liquid iron to age six months. Up to 36% of the babies given placebo drops were iron deficient and 10% were fully anemic. Babies who received 2mg of iron were 4% deficient and 0% anemic. Interestingly the children at most risk were ones solely breastfed with no iron supplement and 18% of those babies were anemic at the end of the study.

The researchers will continue to follow the children until they are seven years old to see what if any neurological impact the early introduction of iron has. It is hoped that intellectual development will improve and there is some speculation that the iron may help avert behavioral problems and attention deficit issues which are on the rise.

Source: Pediatrics, ScienceDaily


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