Iron Status in Infants and Relation to Dietary Intake. Part 2: Dietary Iron Intake During Infancy
Due to the low iron content of human milk, the dietary iron intake during the period of exclusive breast-feeding is very low. During the first months this low intake does not seem to severely impair the iron status of breast-fed infants, rather prenatally acquired iron stores are used. However, with iron requirements expanding related to rapid growth, additional dietary iron is needed in full-term appropriate-for-gestational-age breast-fed infants at four to six months of age. Supplemental iron is usually introduced via iron-rich complementary food at this age. Programs to control iron deficiency during infancy in developing countries emphasize the role of a dietary approach with strategies like targeted iron supplementation and iron fortification of foods. Bioavailability of alimentary iron is a key issue to be considered. Meat, a good source of well bioavailable heme iron, is advocated to be part of the first complementary food in children with sound infant diets in some affluent countries (e.g. in Germany). This review compiles data and recommendations related to the use of dietary iron in order to control iron deficiency during infancy with a special focus on affluent countries.
Keywords: Infant, dietary iron intake, nutrition, Dietary Iron, Iron content, breast milk, Ferritin, iron-deficiency anemia, Hemoglobin, nutrition during the first months, Scientific Committee on Food, iron fortification, infant formula higher, cow's milk protein, protein hydrolysates, ESPGHAN, Child Nutrition, Diet Committee, IRON IN CF, bioavailable, non-heme iron, complementary food
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