Dry cereals fortified with electrolytic iron or ferrous fumarate are equally effective in breast-fed infants

Ekhard E Ziegler, Samuel J Fomon, Steven E Nelson, Janice M Jeter, Richard C Theuer
Journal of Nutrition 2011, 141 (2): 243-8
Precooked, instant (dry) infant cereals in the US are fortified with electrolytic iron, a source of low reactivity and suspected low bioavailability. Iron from ferrous fumarate is presumed to be more available. In this study, we compared a dry infant rice cereal (Cereal L) fortified with electrolytic iron (54.5 mg iron/100 g cereal) to a similar cereal (Cereal M) fortified with ferrous fumarate (52.2 mg Fe/100 g) for efficacy in maintaining iron status and preventing iron deficiency (ID) in breast-fed infants. Ascorbic acid was included in both cereals. In this prospective, randomized double-blind trial, exclusively breast-fed infants were enrolled at 1 mo and iron status was determined periodically. At 4 mo, 3 infants had ID anemia and were excluded. Ninety-five infants were randomized at 4 mo, and 69 (36 Cereal L, 33 Cereal M) completed the intervention at 9 mo. From 4 to 9 mo, they consumed daily one of the study cereals. With each cereal, 2 infants had mild ID, a prevalence of 4.2%, but no infant developed ID anemia. There were no differences in iron status between study groups. Iron intake from the study cereals was (mean ± SD) 1.21 ± 0.31 mg⋅kg(-1)⋅d(-1) from Cereal L and 1.07 ± 0.40 mg⋅kg(-1)⋅d(-1) from Cereal M. Eleven infants had low birth iron endowment (plasma ferritin < 55 μg/L at 2 mo) and 54% of these infants had ID with or without anemia by 4 mo. We conclude that electrolytic iron and ferrous fumarate were equally efficacious as fortificants of this infant cereal.

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