In an effort to eliminate iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia in infants and children, the American Academy of Pediatrics has updated it’s 1999 guidelines on iron intake for youngsters age 3 years and younger.
Both iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia can negatively affect cognitive and behavioral development, according to the organization. Among the recommendations put forth by the group are the following:
- Because human milk contains very little iron, starting at age 4 months, healthy, term infants who had been receiving human milk in more than half their daily feedings should begin to get 1 mg/kg/day of oral iron supplementation until they start consuming iron-containing foods. Iron intake for preterm infants should be at least 2 mg/kg/day through age 12 months.
- For the first 12 months of life, formula should contain 10 to 12 mg/day of iron, and iron-containing complementary foods should be introduced after age 4 to 6 months. Whole milk should not be used until age 13 months.
- Iron intake should be 11 mg/day for infants aged 6 to 12 months, and 7 mg/day for infants aged 1 to 3 years. Red meats and high-iron vegetables should be introduced early. Fruits high in vitamin C help with iron absorption.
- Liquid iron supplements can be used to meet iron needs in children aged 6 months through 3 years; chewable multivitamins can be used by kids aged 3 years and older.
- Children should be screened for anemia at approximately age 12 months. If hemoglobin levels are less than 11 g/dL, the child should be further evaluated for iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia.