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Progress in the prevention of iron deficiency in infants.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of California, San Francisco 94143.


Our present success in preventing iron deficiency in infants is based on a gradual growth in our understanding of iron nutrition. It became recognized that full term infants only become vulnerable to iron deficiency after about 5 months of age, and to a lesser degree if they are breast-fed. The specific foods in which iron is provided during infancy were found to be more important in determining iron absorption than the actual amount of iron in the diet. Experience has also shown that fortification of infant foods is more reliable and cost effective than providing iron medication. Our current approaches to preventing iron deficiency in infants include: 1) maintaining breast feeding for at least 6 months, if possible; 2) using an iron-fortified infant formula if a formula is used and using formula in preference to cow's milk; 3) using iron-fortified infant cereal as one of the first solid foods; and 4) providing supplemental iron for low birth weight infants.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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