Feeding challenges

Iron deficiency in infancy

Iron deficiency is considered the most common micronutrient deficiency worldwide, affecting up to 10% of European children, while about 25% of preschool children worldwide actually suffer from iron deficiency anaemia. Particularly young children aged 1 - 3 years are at risk of developing a deficiency due to rapid growth and the associated great iron demand (Baker & Greer, 2010, Domellöf et al., 2014).


Iron deficiency is defined as a state where the metabolic iron pool is insufficient to maintain the body´s normal physiological functions, which can severly affect the infants (neurocognitive) development (Domellöf et al., 2014, Baker & Greer, 2010). Serum ferritin and/or haemoglobin concentrations are often used as markers for the diagnosis of iron deficiency, cut-off values are displayed below (WHO/ FAO, 2004).

For more information on infant and maternal iron deficiency, anaemia, iron in human milk vs infant formula and its consequences as well as supplementation and ferrous bisglycinate see here.


  • References

    Baker RD, Greer FR. Diagnosis and prevention of iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia in infants and young children (0-3 years of age). Pediatrics 2010; 126(5):1040–50. at: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/20923825/

    Domellöf M, Braegger C, Campoy C, Colomb V, Decsi T, Fewtrell M, Hojsak I, Mihatsch W, Molgaard C, Shamir R, Turck D, van Goudoever J. Iron requirements of infants and toddlers. Journal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition 2014; 58(1):119–29. at: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24135983

    WHO/ FAO. Vitamin and mineral requirements in human nutrition: [report of a joint FAO/WHO expert consultation, Bangkok, Thailand, 21-30 September 1998 /  World Health Organization and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.]. 2nd ed. Geneva: World Health Organization; 2004. at: www.who.int/nutrition/publications/micronutrients/9241546123/en/