TUESDAY, Oct. 5 (HealthDay News) -- The American Academy of
Pediatrics has issued a report that outlines new guidelines
concerning the iron needs of infants and children.
The report also details new procedures for identifying and
following up on signs of iron deficiency and iron anemia --
procedures that rely not just on a single test, but rather a
combination of screening techniques.
"Iron deficiency remains common in the United States," report co-author Dr. Frank Greer, a former chair of the American Academy of Pediatrics committee on nutrition, said in an AAP news release. "And now we know more about the long-term, irreversible effects it can have on children's cognitive and behavioral development. It's critical to children's health that we improve their iron status starting in infancy."
"Ideally, we would prevent iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia with a diet consisting of foods that are naturally rich in iron," report co-author Dr. Robert Baker, a member of the executive committee of the AAP section on gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition, said in the same release.
"Feeding older infants and toddlers foods like meat, shellfish, legumes and iron-rich fruits and vegetables, as well as iron-fortified cereals and fruits rich in vitamin C, which help iron absorption, can help prevent iron deficiency," Baker noted. "In some cases, children will still need liquid iron supplements or chewable vitamins to get the iron they need."
Greer, Baker and their colleagues presented the report recently
at the academy's National Conference & Exhibition in San
Francisco. Report details are also to be published in the November
Having dropped among American children following the
introduction of iron-fortified formulas and foods during the 1970s,
iron deficiency is nonetheless a problem that still affects
anywhere from 4 percent to 15 percent of infants and toddlers up to
the age of 3.
To prevent iron deficiency the academy recommends that
breast-fed infants be given 1 mg/kg per day of iron supplementation
starting at 4 months, until a child begins to consume
iron-fortified cereals. Experts note that while infants have enough
iron in the first four months of life, breast milk does not
actually contain a lot of iron.
That said, infants on formula do not need additional iron
supplementation, according to the AAP, and whole milk should not be
given in the first year.
Those babies eating food between the ages of 6 months and 1 year
should be given red meat and iron-rich vegetables to satisfy their
need for 11 mg of iron a day. The AAP originally misstated that
amount in a news release issued last week.
That need drops to 7 mg a day between the ages of 1 year and 3
years, and ideally this should also come from red meat, vegetables,
and fruits with vitamin C to facilitate iron absorption.
Supplements may also be given during this time, according to the
Babies born prematurely should be provided a minimum of 2 mg/kg
of iron daily until 1 year of age. This means that those being
breast-fed need to be given a 2 mg supplement daily beginning at
1 month of age, and continuing until he or she begins to eat
fortified cereals or iron-rich foods, according to the academy.
For more on iron and children, visit the
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