Low levels of iron in the blood lead to iron deficiency anemia!
Iron deficiency is common in infants and young children in India, and is a major public health problem.2 In India, 80% of children in the age group of 6-23 months suffer from anemia, a condition characterized by low levels of red blood cells and hemoglobin (a protein that binds to iron and carries oxygen to various body cells).3 Additionally, among children aged 6-35 months, 72.2% of those residing in urban India and 80.9% of those residing in rural India have anemia.1 Evidence indicates that iron deficiency is the major cause of anemia in all age groups.2
What are the factors influencing iron levels in infants?
- Iron levels during pregnancy influence the iron levels of the baby: If you had iron-deficiency anemia during pregnancy, then your baby is likely to have low iron levels too.2
- Your baby’s time of birth: If your baby was born prematurely, i.e. before 37 weeks of pregnancy, then he/she may be at risk for iron deficiency.4
- Inadequate complementary feeding practices: Along with breast milk, adequate complementary feeding should be started after 6 months. Breast milk alone may not be able to meet the iron requirements of your baby after 6 months. Consequently, due to a lack of iron-rich complementary foods, your baby can become iron deficient.2,5
- Lack of clean environment: Certain types of infestation of the intestine are a known cause of iron deficiency in infants. If your house or surroundings are not kept clean, it can lead to infestations in your baby. Infestations may in turn cause your little one to become iron deficient.1
Therefore make sure to give your baby nutritious, healthy and adequate food. Also, remember to keep your house and surroundings neat and clean.
- Guidelines for Control of Iron Deficiency Anemia, National Iron Initiative – towards infinite potential in anaemia free India. Adolescent Division, Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Government of India
- Nutrient Requirements and Recommended Dietary Allowances for Indians, A Report of the Expert Group of the Indian Council of Medical Research. National Institute Of Nutrition, Indian Council of Medical Research. 2009
- National Family Health Survey 3. India 2005-06; International, Institute of Population Sciences, Mumbai, India and ORC, Macro, Calverton, Maryland, USA. October 2007.
- Robert D. Baker, MD, PhD, Frank R. Greer, MD, and the committee on nutrition. Clinical Report—Diagnosis and Prevention of Iron Deficiency and Iron-Deficiency Anemia in Infants and Young Children (0 –3 Years of Age), American Academy Of Pediatrics. 2010. 126 (5):1040 – 1050.
- Kapur, S. Sharma and K. N. Agarwal, Effectiveness of Nutrition Education. Iron Supplementation or both on Iron Status in Children, Ind pediatrics, 2003. 40 (17):1131 – 1144.