How to Prevent Anemia in Infants
Iron deficiencies are extremely common among infants and can cause the development of anemia. How do you prevent this from occurring? Ensure proper nutrition and give your infant a daily iron supplement.
Infants are born with an iron store containing enough iron for just four months. After a short period of time, the infant triples their weight and the iron store in their body dwindles. Without the proper nutrition, including the consumption of iron, the infant will likely develop anemia.
Anemia is a common phenomenon among infants and is characterized by a lack of red blood cells or low hemoglobin levels, which causes a decrease in cellular oxygenation and, by consequence, reduced cell functioning. Anemia is likely to cause weakness and adversely affect your infant’s alertness, and in extreme cases even lead to cognitive and developmental delays. Anemia isn’t a disease, but rather a symptom of a nutritional deficit or another illness. It can appear as the result of a genetic disease or bleeding, but the most common cause of anemia in infants is an iron deficiency. As this issue can be prevented, the Health Ministry recommends giving all infants a daily iron supplement between the ages of 4 and 18 months.
A few rules of thumb with respect to maintaining proper iron levels:
Before the age of 6 months, infants should be exclusively breast or (iron-rich) formula fed.
From 6 months and up, it is important to feed your infant iron-rich foods, such as: red meat, turkey, fish and lentils. There are fruits and vegetables with higher levels of iron, but their absorption by the body is significantly less effective than those of fish and meat.
Do not give infants under the age of 1 cow’s milk or tea, as they inhibit iron absorption.
It is recommended to consume vitamin C, as it improves the body’s absorption of ingested iron.
From the age of 4 months, be sure to give your infant a daily iron supplement.
It is recommended to select an iron supplement that is classified as a medication and has been clinically proven to be effective and okay to use in infants. The various natural supplements are mostly made from plants and therefore have a low iron concentration and have not been proven effective through clinical studies.
Take your child for routine blood tests from their first birthday, in order to prevent a decrease in iron levels.
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