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Iron deficiency seems to be universal. Of the hundreds of children I have tested for their iron status in the past few years, 99% are not only low in iron based on serum iron and TIBC, but show extremely low iron stores as reflected by very low ferritin levels. The article just published in Pediatrics showing that low iron has negative effects on behavior gives further reason to supplement most if not all children with a little iron. I would recomend 2 – 3 mg/Kg/day elemental iron – during the first year or two of life. More than this can be constipating. Check with your Pediatrician or physician for your childs particular recommendations.Here is the study for you to read:
Effects of Iron Supplementation of LBW Infants on Cognition and Behavior at 3 Years
Staffan K. Berglund, MD, PhDa,
1. aPediatrics and
Björn Westrup, MD, PhDb,
Bruno Hägglöf, MD, PhDc,
Olle Hernell, MD, PhDa, and
Magnus Domellöf, MD, PhDa
2. cChild and Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Clinical Sciences, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden; and
3. bDivision of Neonatology, Department of Women and Child Health, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden
OBJECTIVE: Low birth weight (LBW) infants are at increased risk of cognitive and behavioral problems and at risk for iron deficiency, which is associated with impaired neurodevelopment. We hypothesized that iron supplementation of LBW infants would improve cognitive scores and reduce behavioral problems.METHODS: In a randomized controlled trial, 285 marginally LBW (2000–2500 g) infants received 0, 1, or 2 mg/kg/day of iron supplements from 6 weeks to 6 months of age. At 3.5 years of age, these infants and 95 normal birth weight controls were assessed with a psychometric test (Wechsler Preschool and Primary Scale of Intelligence) and a questionnaire of behavioral problems (Child Behavior Checklist; CBCL).
RESULTS: There were no significant differences in IQ between the LBW groups or LBW infants versus controls. Mean (SD) full-scale IQ was 105.2 (14.5), 104.2 (14.7), and 104.5 (12.7) in the placebo, 1 mg, and 2 mg groups, respectively (P= .924). However, for behavioral problems, there was a significant effect of intervention. The prevalence of children with CBCL scores above the US subclinical cutoff was 12.7%, 2.9%, and 2.7% in the placebo, 1-mg, and 2-mg groups, respectively (P = .027), compared with 3.2% in controls. Relative risk (95% confidence interval) for CBCL score above cutoff in placebo-treated children versus supplemented was 4.5 (1.4–14.2).
CONCLUSIONS: Early iron supplementation of marginally LBW infants does not affect cognitive functions at 3.5 years of age but significantly reduces the prevalence of behavioral problems. The study suggests a causal relation between infant iron deficiency and later behavioral problems.