OBJECTIVE: To verify the behavior of hemoglobin levels and anemia prevalence in full term infants, aged 3 to 6 months and on exclusive breastfeeding. METHODS: A cross-sectional study of 242 infants aged 3 to 6 months with birth weights of more than 2,500 g, on exclusive breastfeeding and monitored by the Program for the Promotion of Infant Growth and Development, part of the Paraisópolis Einstein Community Program. Hemoglobin was assayed by finger prick between the third and sixth months of life. Anemia was defined as Hb < 10.3 g/dL (Saarinen) or Hb < 10 g/dL (Brault-Dubuc) for infants aged 3 to 5 months and as Hb < 11.0 g/dL (WHO) for infants aged 6 months. RESULTS: Mean hemoglobin concentration was 11.3 and 11.4 g/dL at 3 and 4 months and 11.2 and 11.1 g/dL at 5 and 6 months, respectively. The percentage of anemic infants varied depending on age and the cutoff adopted, being 11.8, 10.2 and 8.3% at 3, 4 and 5 months, respectively, according to the Brault-Dubuc criteria, and 20.6, 14.8 and 10.4% by the Saarinen criteria. Anemia prevalence at 6 months was 37.5%. CONCLUSIONS: Anemia prevalence rates observed among infants aged between 3 and 6 months varied from 8.3 to 37.5%, justifying increased attention on the part of pediatricians to the hemoglobin levels of infants who are on exclusive breastfeeding, come from low-income families and present risk factors for iron deficiency.
Anemia; breastfeeding; iron deficiency