From the age of 3 to 24 months, capillary Hb levels were measured on normal term infants who received no medicinal iron from any source. The mean and standard deviations are recorded at 3-monthly intervals. Females had a higher Hb than males when considered as an overall trend throughout the period. There was no effect of social class or weight gain from birth in either sex. Birthweight was significantly related to Hb at 3 months in males only and at no other age. There was no relation between illness and Hb.
Compared with earlier series in England, the level of Hb in infants is generally higher now than previously, particularly in the second year of life. Infants were given either 10 mg iron in the form of colloidal ferric hydroxide daily, or a placebo. Iron raised the Hb in males of social classes I and II, those with a birthweight below 3·18 kg, and those who gained most weight. Iron made no difference to the incidence of infection. In the absence of a proven relation between a low Hb and morbidity in an affluent community, the routine administration of iron or other haematinics to normal term infants cannot be justified.
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