Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Should Breast–fed Infants Receive Iron Supplements

There is a great controversy on this recommendation in the world of pediatrics. The American Academy of Pediatrics section on breastfeeding has suggested that the current guideline that all breastfed babies get iron supplements beginning at 4 months of age be eliminated. Dr. Richard Schanler of Albert Einstein College of Medicine states, “No one has shown any benefit for doing that.” He suggests that another way to increase iron stores in newborns is delayed cutting of the cord. Even without this simple measure, there is enough iron in infants to last at least 4 months. Iron containing solid foods can be added at 6 months. Some pediatricians adamantly advocate iron for breastfed infants and others for all infants. They site slightly lower hemoglobin levels in children where this is not done. Testing for iron deficiency can get expensive. The best approach is probably individualized from the overall risk status of the infant and the desires of the parents.

See Family Practice News (click here), December, 2010, p. 12-13.

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