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Right feeding practices can prevent iron deficiency anaemia in young children

Posted:  Monday, June 29, 2015

Iron deficiency anaemia has been a major public health issue and continues to haunt young children till date. However, simple alterations in daily feeding practices can prevent iron deficiency anaemia in infants and young children.

Launched to explore risk factors and suggestions for prevention of severe iron deficiency anaemia, a study published in the journal Public Health Nutrition came out with a set of recommendations. The study evaluated behaviours specific to children having iron deficiency anaemia with those of children with normal iron status.

The findings of the study helped formulate the following recommendations:

1. After one year of age, the consumption of cow’s milk should be limited to 500 mL per day.

2. Bottle use should be discontinued by the age of 12 to 15 months.

3. Infants should not be put to sleep with a bottle.

The rationale underlying these recommendations lies in the fact that prolonged bottle use in children can adversely affect self regulation of milk intake resulting in surplus ingestion of cow’s milk. In addition to being a poor source of iron, cow’s milk when consumed in excess, can cut down the child’s intake of foods with higher iron content.

Looking forward to improved practices, chief investigator Dr. Stanely Zlotkin said, “We hope our recommendations will help primary care providers and public health agencies educate families on how they can make simple adjustments to their feeding practices that may help to protect their children from developing iron-deficiency anaemia.”

Severe iron deficiency anaemia is associated with adverse effects on cognitive development, higher morbidity such as heart failure and stroke, increased hospitalisation and developmental delay. However, these deleterious events can be easily deterred by following the right infant and child feeding practices.

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