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Proc Nutr Soc. 2007 Aug;66(3):412-22.

Session 4: Mineral metabolism and body composition iron status of breast-fed infants.

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Department of Nutrition, Program in International and Community Nutrition, University of California, Davis, CA 95616-8669, USA.


Fe deficiency is a common nutritional disorder during infancy, particularly in low-income countries. The Fe status of a breast-fed infant is strongly influenced by the body Fe content at birth, which is determined by factors that operate before birth (maternal Fe status before and during pregnancy; infant gestational age and birth weight) and at the time of delivery (the timing of umbilical cord clamping). Delaying the clamping of the umbilical cord for 2 min can increase body Fe content by approximately 33% (75 mg), and results in greater Fe stores at 6 months of age. After birth, male gender and a rapid rate of weight gain are associated with lower Fe status. During the first half of infancy dietary Fe requirements depend on Fe stores at birth. For an exclusively-breast-fed full-term normal-birth-weight infant with delayed umbilical cord clamping, whose mother had adequate Fe status during pregnancy, the Fe provided from stores and breast milk is sufficient for >/=6 months, but before this time higher-risk infants may become Fe deficient. Fe supplementation can be beneficial for high-risk infants, but can have adverse effects on growth and morbidity of Fe-replete infants. After 6 months most breast-fed infants will require complementary foods that are rich in Fe.

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