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Australian children are not getting enough iron


Nine out of 10 Australian babies do not consume enough iron.

The finding, based on nationwide interviews with 1,100 parents who documented their children’s diets, experts worried that the deficiency could affect growth and lead to learning and behavior problems.

A quarter of all babies also do not meet the recommended daily allowance of iron.

The study, conducted by the South Australian Institute of Health and Medical Research, was aimed at children aged six months to two years.

Although most get the right amount of most nutrients, Professor Tim Green and Dr. Merin Netting say 90 percent of children ages 6 to 12 months consume “significantly less iron per day than recommended.”

“Insufficient iron is a concern because we know that iron deficiency negatively affects overall development,” Dr. Netting said.

“It can also cause fatigue, loss of appetite, and poor growth and lead to anemia, a condition in which oxygen is reduced in the body.”

Iron is an important mineral needed to produce red blood cells, which are vital for a healthy immune system, mental function, muscle strength and energy.

Its main role – helps hemoglobin carry oxygen from the lungs to all cells of the body.

Humans cannot produce iron, so it must come with food.

The recommendations of the National Council for Health and Medical Research recommend that infants consume 7 mg of iron daily.

To achieve this, they need to eat about 300 g of beef puree or 400 g of fortified porridge.

“Perhaps the recommended iron intake has been set higher than necessary and should be reconsidered,” Dr Netting said.

“But we won’t be able to confirm whether this is the case without further research with a larger cohort of infants.

“We do not have data on blood iron or anemia in this group, and we urgently need them. If iron levels are low, we may need to consider giving babies iron supplements. ”

A study funded by the Nestle Nutrition Institute also found that about a third of babies consume too much salt.

This is usually due to the consumption of excess processed foods, says Dr. Netting.

“Children develop a taste for salty foods, which are often unhealthy,” she said.

“It can contribute to bad eating habits in the future as well as high blood pressure.”

On the positive side, the level of breastfeeding exceeded expectations: 75 percent of mothers breastfed at six months and 50 percent at 12 months.

“It is gratifying to see that many mothers choose breast milk with all the nutrients it provides, instead of reaching for the infant formula,” Dr. Netting said.


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