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Eur J Clin Nutr. 2003 Apr;57(4):505-13.

Iron status at 12 months of age -- effects of body size, growth and diet in a population with high birth weight.

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  • 1Landspitali University Hospital and Department of Food Science, University of Iceland, Reykjavik, Iceland.



To investigate effects of growth and food intake in infancy on iron status at the age of 12 months in a population with high birth weight and high frequency of breast-feeding.


In a longitudinal observational study infants' consumption and growth were recorded. Weighed 2 day food records at the ages of 6, 9 and 12 months were used to analyse food and nutrient intake.


Healthy-born participants were recruited from four maternity wards. Blood samples and growth data were collected from healthcare centres and food consumption data at home.


Newborn infants (n=180) were selected randomly according to the mother's domicile and 77% (n=138) participated, of them, 83% (n=114), or 63% of original sample, came in for blood sampling.


Every fifth child was iron-deficient (serum ferritin <12 microg/l and mean corpuscular volume<74 fl) and 2.7% were also anaemic (Hb<105 g/l). Higher weight gain from 0 to 12 months was seen in infants who were iron-deficient at 12 months (6.7+/-0.9 kg) than in non-iron-deficient infants (6.2+/-0.9 kg) (P=0.050). Serum transferrin receptors at 12 months were positively associated with length gain from 0 to 12 months (adjusted r(2)=0.14; P=0.045) and mean corpuscular volume negatively to ponderal index at birth (adjusted r(2)=0.14; P=0.019) and 12 months (adjusted r(2)=0.17; P=0.006). Iron-deficient infants had shorter breast-feeding duration (5.3+/-2.2 months) than non-iron-deficient (7.9+/-3.2 months; P=0.001). Iron status indices were negatively associated with cow's milk consumption at 9-12 months, significant above 460 g/day, but were positively associated with iron-fortified breakfast cereals, fish and meat consumption.


: In a population of high birth weight, iron deficiency at 12 months is associated with faster growth and shorter breast-feeding duration from 0 to 12 months of age. The results suggest that a diet of 9-12-month-olds should avoid cow's milk above 500 g/day and include fish, meat and iron-fortified breakfast cereals to improve iron status.

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