Iron-Fortified Foods Are Needed To Meet the Estimated Average Requirement for Iron in Australian Infants Aged 6 to 12 Months

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Growth & Development Nutrition Health & Wellness

Meeting iron intake recommendations is challenging for infants 6–12 mo, especially breastfed infants. Three-quarters of
Australian infants 6–12 mo have iron intakes below the estimated average requirement (7 mg), placing them at risk of iron deficiency. After 6 mo, breastmilk is no longer sufficient to meet the increased demand for iron, and iron-rich complementary foods are recommended. Iron-
fortified foods may be a means of improving iron intake in infants, particularly those that are breastfed.

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Abstract:

Background

Meeting iron intake recommendations is challenging for infants 6–12 mo, especially breastfed infants. Three-quarters of Australian infants 6–12 mo have iron intakes below the estimated average requirement (7 mg), placing them at risk of iron deficiency. After 6 mo, breastmilk is no longer sufficient to meet the increased demand for iron, and iron-rich complementary foods are recommended. Iron-fortified foods may be a means of improving iron intake in infants, particularly those that are breastfed.

Objectives:

The aims of the study were as follows: 1) to examine the effect of milk-type and fortified foods on iron intake and the prevalence
of inadequacy in infants 6–12 mo; 2) to model the effect of fixed amounts of iron-fortified infant cereal (IFIC) at 6 levels of iron fortification
on total iron intake and the prevalence of inadequacy; and 3) to assess the effect IFIC on the intake of other nutrients in the diet.

Design

Secondary analysis of cross-sectional dietary intake data of infants 6–12 mo (n = 286) participating in the Australian Feeding Infants and Toddlers Study (OzFITS) 2021.

Results

Median (interquartile range) iron intake was 8.9 (7.5, 10.3); 6.3 (4.5, 8.2); and 2.7 (1.5, 4.4) mg/d in formula-fed, combination-fed, and breastfed infants, respectively. The corresponding prevalence of inadequacy was 19%, 67%, and 96%. Infants who consumed fortified foods had higher median iron intakes than those who did not, 6.2 compared with 1.9 mg/d. Dietary modeling showed that consuming 18 g (300 kJ) of IFIC, fortified at 35 mg/100 g dry weight, reduces the prevalence of inadequacy for iron from 75% to 5% for all infants.

Conclusions

Iron intakes are low in Australian infants, especially for breastfed infants in the second half of infancy. Modeling shows that 300 kJ of IFIC, the current manufacturer-recommended serving, fortified at 35 mg/100 g dry weight, added to infant diets would be an effective means to reduce the prevalence of inadequacy for iron.


Keywords: iron, infant feeding, iron-fortified infant cereal, dietary modeling, Australia

Source: Najma A. Moumin, Jessica A. Grieger, Merryn J. Netting, Maria Makrides, Tim J. Green, Iron-Fortified Foods Are Needed To Meet the Estimated Average Requirement for Iron in Australian Infants Aged 6 to 12 Months, The Journal of Nutrition, Volume 153, Issue 10, 2023, Pages 3101-3109, ISSN 0022-3166, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.tjnut.2023.08.018

Maria Makrides

Maria Makrides

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