JOURNAL ARTICLE

Iron status at 12 months of age — effects of body size, growth and diet in a population with high birth weight

I Thorsdottir, B S Gunnarsson, H Atladottir, K F Michaelsen, G Palsson
European Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2003, 57 (4): 505-13
12700611

OBJECTIVE: To investigate effects of growth and food intake in infancy on iron status at the age of 12 months in a population with high birth weight and high frequency of breast-feeding.

DESIGN: In a longitudinal observational study infants' consumption and growth were recorded. Weighed 2 day food records at the ages of 6, 9 and 12 months were used to analyse food and nutrient intake.

SETTING: Healthy-born participants were recruited from four maternity wards. Blood samples and growth data were collected from healthcare centres and food consumption data at home.

SUBJECTS: Newborn infants (n=180) were selected randomly according to the mother's domicile and 77% (n=138) participated, of them, 83% (n=114), or 63% of original sample, came in for blood sampling.

RESULTS: Every fifth child was iron-deficient (serum ferritin <12 microg/l and mean corpuscular volume<74 fl) and 2.7% were also anaemic (Hb<105 g/l). Higher weight gain from 0 to 12 months was seen in infants who were iron-deficient at 12 months (6.7+/-0.9 kg) than in non-iron-deficient infants (6.2+/-0.9 kg) (P=0.050). Serum transferrin receptors at 12 months were positively associated with length gain from 0 to 12 months (adjusted r(2)=0.14; P=0.045) and mean corpuscular volume negatively to ponderal index at birth (adjusted r(2)=0.14; P=0.019) and 12 months (adjusted r(2)=0.17; P=0.006). Iron-deficient infants had shorter breast-feeding duration (5.3+/-2.2 months) than non-iron-deficient (7.9+/-3.2 months; P=0.001). Iron status indices were negatively associated with cow's milk consumption at 9-12 months, significant above 460 g/day, but were positively associated with iron-fortified breakfast cereals, fish and meat consumption.

CONCLUSIONS: : In a population of high birth weight, iron deficiency at 12 months is associated with faster growth and shorter breast-feeding duration from 0 to 12 months of age. The results suggest that a diet of 9-12-month-olds should avoid cow's milk above 500 g/day and include fish, meat and iron-fortified breakfast cereals to improve iron status.

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