Aims and objectives. To describe possible social, nutritional and biological factors influencing iron intake and iron status among healthy one-year-old children in southern Sweden.
Background. Iron deficiency is one of the most important nutritional disorders and increases the risk of delayed mental and motor development. Children are at risk because of rapid growth, which entails relatively high requirements of iron.
Design. A prospective study using survey methods.
Method. Randomly selected one-year-old children (n = 90) and their parents participated. Parents answered a questionnaire enquiring about demographic data and the child’s feeding and health during the first year. The child’s total food intake and blood samples (haemoglobin, mean corpuscular volume, S-ferritin and transferring receptor) were obtained.
Results. Twenty-seven per cent of the children had an iron intake below the Nordic Nutrition Recommendations of 8 mg/day (NNR 2004). Follow-on formula and iron-fortified porridge contributed to 64% of the child’s total iron intake. Partial breastfeeding and low maternal education correlated negatively with iron intake from complementary food. In total, 10·3% (n = 9) of the children were found to be iron-depleted (S-ferritin ≤12 μg/l), and 2·3% (n = 2) had iron deficiency with or without anaemia (Hb ≤100 g/l).
Conclusions. One-year-old children in Sweden may be at risk of developing iron deficiency, but information about iron-rich food can improve iron status.
Relevance to clinical practice. Knowledge about factors influencing children’s iron intake and iron status may improve the nutritional advice and education from the Child Health Services to prevent or detect iron deficiency.