New Iron Recommendations Issued For Children
Sue Hubbard, M.D.
New Iron Recommendations
Oatmeal is a good source of iron
An article published recently in the journal Pediatrics, from the
An iron deficiency can not only cause anemia, but may also cause "long-term, irreversible effects on children's cognitive and behavioral development," the report states. Because of these findings, it's imperative that adequate iron is provided in infancy and early childhood.
Studies have shown that 4 percent of 6-month-olds, and 12 percent of 12-month-olds, are iron deficient. Children between 1-3 years of age have rates of iron deficiency between 6 percent and 15 percent. Pre-term infants, infants who are exclusively breastfed and infants who are at risk for developmental disabilities seem to be at higher risk to develop iron deficiency.
The committee recognized that the ideal way to prevent iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia is a diet consisting of foods naturally rich in iron, but realized that in some cases "children will still need liquid iron supplements or chewable vitamins to get the iron they need."
The AAP guidelines now recommend:
1. Term healthy babies that are exclusively breastfed should receive an iron supplement (1 mg per day) beginning at 4 months of age.
2. Whole milk should not be started until 12 months of age.
3. Infants 6-12 months old need 11 mg of iron per day, which should be met via the use of "complementary" foods. Red meat and vegetables with high iron content should be introduced early, as well as the use of iron-fortified cereals.
4. Toddlers ages 1-3 years need 7 mg of iron per day, and again this is best if iron comes from foods.
5. Children should have their hemoglobin checked sometime between 9-12 months old, and again between 15-18 months of age, and follow-up for iron deficiency treatment and testing is recommended.
6. Children who don't meet their iron needs via foods should receive a daily iron supplement.
The article contains a table, which shows many foods from each food group that are good sources of iron. Foods like meat, shellfish, beans, iron fortified cereals, and fruits and vegetables that contain vitamin C (which aids in iron absorption) are all encouraged.
Thanks to my mother, I've always known that liver is a good source of iron (though is was never my favorite dish as a child), but clams and oysters are also high in iron. While oatmeal is a good iron source, so is molasses. Tofu and wheat germ are also high in iron, as are edema me beans, which many kids love.
By getting creative with foods that are high in iron early in a child's life, iron deficiency may be avoided. You never know what your child will eat unless you try it!
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