A study just released by UT Southwestern Medical Center researchers show that toddlers who fall into one of two groups have a higher than average risk to develop iron deficiency. Those two groups are those who are overweight and those who are not enrolled in day care.
The results are from data collected from a national survey of 1,641`toddlers. Of the toddlers who were overweight 20% were iron deficient while only 8% of those who were considered to be at risk of becoming over weight and 7% of normal weight toddlers were iron deficient.
This is the first study that has reported an association between being iron deficient and being overweight in the 1 to 3 year old group.
Further results of the study showed that 10% of the toddlers not in day care had iron deficiency while only 5% of those in day care did.
Iron deficiency is not to be taken lightly. There can be long term effects, so preventing it from occurring as early in life as possible is of upmost importance. It can cause anemia, impaired bone marrow and impaired muscle function.
Iron-deficiency anemia in infancy and early childhood has been connected with behavioral delays and cognitive delays. These can include impaired learning ability, low achievement in school, and low test scores on mental and motor development.
There have been studies done in the past that have shown a high level of iron deficiency in infants in the United States in low income groups as well as in children who have experienced food insecurity and therefor have diets that are low in iron.
The data that was used for this study came from a study that was done from 1999 to 2002 by the National Center for Health Statistics. The families who had participate in this previous survey were asked to complete an extensive household interview and had medical examinations conducted in a mobil health center.
Of the 1,641 toddlers who were tested, 42% were Hispanic, 28% were white and 25% were black. Among the Hispanic children 12% showed iron deficiency, among the white children it was 6% and it was 6% among the black children as well. Some of the parents were interviewed in a foreign language and their children had 14% with iron deficiency with th percentage of children whose parents were interviewed in English was 7%.
They also were able to define dietary practices that led to iron deficiency. The first one was breastfeeding children over six months of age that were not supplemented by iron-rich foods or vitamins with iron. Another practice is introducing milk early as well as two more, prolonged bottle feeding, and excessive consumption of cow’s milk. They were also able to see an association between maternal prenatal anemia and iron deficiency in the infant.
The reasoning behind the excessive use of the bottle being a cause is the fact that children who are not weaned off the bottle at the right age become so used to drinking milk and juices that they have little appetite left for a balanced meal.
When it comes to the rates between the stay at home kids and the once in day care, they say the reason is unclear and they are planing further studies to look into it. It may be the simple fact that they get a better diet in day care that have higher amounts of iron, but there have not been studied done on what kind of foods are served in day cares as well as how well trained the employees actually are on the subject of nutrition.
Source: UT Southwestern Medical Center http://www8.utsouthwestern.edu/