Breastfeeding and Iron Deficiency

breastmilkWhile there has historically been a slight association between breast feeding and iron deficiency, and this study found an “association”, it failed to meet statistical significance. I have seen, however, some of the most iron deficient babies over the years in the exclusively breastfed babies that were not getting any iron rich foods introduced by 4-6 months. Since iron deficiency puts babies at significant risk for anemia, developmental delays and vulnerability to other toxins, this article should be a good reminder to supplement with iron or iron rich foods when breast feeding.

For iron from the diet, meats and fish are the traditional source with the greatest iron.  For vegetarian sources, look for green vegetables like spinach and beans.  The list below gives you an idea of some good vegetarian sources:

Sources of Iron

A bigger issue should be made of all the negative consequences of giving cow’s milk, which is for calves (baby cows), to human babies.  While formula is improved, a look at the list of ingredients with partially hydrogenated vegetable oils and corn syrups for sweeteners, should be enough to prompt all mom’s, who are able to do so, to breastfeed at least for the first year of life. 

Read the AAP article on breastfeeding and iron deficiency

Dr. Paul


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