Background Iron deficiency (ID) and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) during infancy are associated with poor neurological development. A food consumption survey in the Netherlands showed that the median iron intake of infants, aged 2 to 3 years, was below the advised adequate intake of 7 mg/day.
Aim To investigate the iron status in healthy young infants in the Netherlands and to identify risk factors for ID.
Methods We conducted a multi centre, observational study in healthy young infants aged 0.5 to 3 years. We measured serum ferritin (SF), hemoglobin (Hb) and hemoglobin content in reticulocytes (CHr). We measured C-reactive protein (CRP) to identify infections. Parents filled in a questionnaire to identify risk factors for ID.
Results Until now we included 350 healthy infants. Forty infants were excluded (CRP>5 mg/l). ID (SF < 12 µg/l) and IDA (SF < 12 µg/l and Hb < 6.8 mmol/l) were detected in 60 (19.4%) and 27 (8.7%) of the 310 remaining infants respectively. CHr was measured in 249 infants. 32 of 249 (12.9%) infants showed iron deficient erythropoiesis (CHr < 26 pg). Iron intake and use of iron fortified formula were associated with less ID (p=0.02 and p=0.01). Intake of >500 ml cow’s milk/day was negatively associated with iron status (p=0.01).
Conclusion ID is present in 19.4% of healthy young infants aged 0.5 to 3 years in the Netherlands.
Iron status was positively associated with iron intake and the use of iron fortified formula and negatively associated with excessive intake of cow’s milk.