Importance of food practices during the first year of life to prevent iron deficiency

The well-known relevance of iron deficiency anemia for public health derives not only from its prevalence, but mainly from its harmful effects on child health. In order to investigate feeding practices in the first year of life and their association with iron deficiency, domestic and international scientific articles were reviewed and the most relevant articles were selected. Children born at term and with appropriate birth weight get all the iron they need from exclusive breastfeeding, with complementary foods of any kind being unnecessary in the first six months of life. At about six months of life, the iron reserves are gradually depleted and complementary foods take on a predominant role in meeting the iron requirement. The role of breastfeeding in the occurrence of iron deficiency is still debated, and appears to depend on the country, region and type of milk used to replace breast milk. The replacement of breast milk with cow's milk increases the risk of the child developing iron deficiency. Complementary practices that have been proven to contribute to the prevention of iron deficiency are complementary foods high in bioavailable iron, enriched foods and iron supplementation in prophylactic doses. A diet high in iron bioavailability is that which contains the staple foods of the family, as long as they are healthy, with the presence of meat, vitamin A and vitamin C. The foods consumed in the first year of life have an important role in the prevention of iron deficiency anemia, and their correct implementation depends on guidelines that should be adopted as standard practice by primary healthcare units.

Feeding; Anemia; Child; Iron deficiency

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