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J Pediatr Hematol Oncol. 2004 May;26(5):284-8.

Efficacy of daily and weekly iron supplementation on iron status in exclusively breast-fed infants.

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Department of Social Pediatrics, Institute of Child Health, Hacettepe University, Ankara, Turkey.


Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) remains the most prevalent nutritional deficiency in infants worldwide. The purpose of this study was to determine the efficacy of daily and weekly iron supplementation for 3 months to improve the iron status in 4-month-old, exclusively breast-fed healthy infants. Infants 4 months of age were eligible for the open, randomized controlled trial if their mothers intended to continue exclusive breast-feeding until the infants were 6 months of age. Infants or mothers with iron deficiency (ID) or IDA on admission were excluded. The infants (n = 79) were randomly assigned to three groups, the first group receiving daily (1 mg/kg daily), the second group weekly (7 mg/kg weekly), and the third group no iron supplementation. Anthropometric measurements were taken on admission and at 6 and 7 months of age. Iron status was analyzed on admission and monthly for 3 months. Both hematologic parameters and anthropometric measurements were found to be similar among the three groups during the study period. Seven infants (31.8%) in the control group, six (26.0%) in the daily group, and three (13.6%) in the weekly group developed ID or IDA (P > 0.05). Infants whose mothers had ID or IDA during the study period were more likely to develop ID or IDA independently from iron supplementation. Serum ferritin levels decreased between 4 and 6 months of age in the control and daily groups; the weekly group showed no such decrease. In all groups, the mean levels of serum ferritin were significantly increased from 6 months to 7 months of age during the weaning period. In this study, which had a limited number of cases, weekly or daily iron supplementation was not found to decrease the likelihood of IDA. In conclusion, exclusively breast-fed infants with maternal IDA appeared to be at increased risk of developing IDA.

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