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A prospective study of iron status in exclusively breastfed term infants up to 6 months of age

DOI: 10.1186/1746-4358-3-3

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Abstract:

In this prospective study in Delhi, India, during the period 2003–2004 normally delivered babies of non-anemic [(Hemoglobin (Hb) = 11 g/dl, n = 68] and anemic (Hb 7 – 10.9 g/dl, n = 61) mothers were followed until 6 months of age. Iron parameters were measured in the cord blood at 14 weeks and 6 months. Breast milk iron and lactoferrin were measured at the same intervals.Iron parameters in babies of both groups were within normal limits at birth, 14 weeks and 6 months. Mean breast milk iron and lactoferrin in non-anemic (day 1: 0.89, 6 months: 0.26 mg/l; day 1: 12.02, 6 months: 5.85 mg/ml) and anemic mothers (day 1: 0.86, 6 months: 0.27 mg/l; day 1: 12.91, 6 months: 6.37 mg/ml) were not different on day one or at other times. No relationship was found between breast milk iron, lactoferrin and iron status of the babies.Exclusively breastfed infants of non-anemic and anemic mothers did not develop iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia by six months of age.The World Health Organization (WHO) and American Academy of Pediatrics unequivocally recommend that exclusive breastfeeding is the ideal nutrition for infants and is sufficient to support optimal growth for the first six months of life [1,2]. However, there is controversy about the adequacy of breast milk in maintaining optimum iron status of exclusively breastfed babies. A WHO committee expressed concern that some exclusively breastfed infants may become iron deficient [1]. Glader recommended that infants exclusively breastfed should receive iron supplementation from four months of age [3]. Calvo et al. evaluated the iron and nutritional status of exclusively breastfed infants for a prolonged period in relation to their growth rate and dietary changes and recommended that breastfed infants should be given supplemental iron from the fourth month of life [4]. Dewey et al. also evaluated the effect of introducing complementary foods before six months of age in exclusively breastfed infants in Honduras [5]. They rec

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