Objective: The objective was to study the effects of iron supplementation on hemoglobin and iron status in 2 different populations. Study design: In a randomized, placebo-controlled, masked clinical trial, we assigned term Swedish (n = 101) and Honduran (n = 131) infants to 3 groups at 4 months of age: (1) iron supplements, 1 mg/kg/d, from 4 to 9 months, (2) placebo, 4 to 6 months and iron, 6 to 9 months, and (3) placebo, 4 to 9 months. All infants were breast-fed exclusively to 6 months and partially to 9 months. Results: From 4 to 6 months, the effect of iron (group 1 vs 2 + 3) was significant and similar in both populations for hemoglobin, ferritin, and zinc protoporphyrin. From 6 to 9 months, the effect (group 2 vs group 3) was significant and similar at both sites for all iron status variables except hemoglobin, for which there was a significant effect only in Honduras. In Honduras, the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia at 9 months was 29% in the placebo group and 9% in the supplemented groups. In Sweden, iron supplements caused no reduction in the already low prevalence of iron deficiency anemia at 9 months (<3%). Conclusion: Iron supplementation from 4 to 9 months or 6 to 9 months significantly reduced iron deficiency anemia in Honduran breast-fed infants. The unexpected hemoglobin response at 4 to 6 months in both populations suggests that regulation of hemoglobin synthesis is immature at this age.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health