• iron-deficiency;
  • anemia;
  • weanling;
  • ascorbic acid

ABSTRACT. The rapidly growing weanling becomes vulnerable to iron deficiency when neonatal iron stores have been consumed after the first few months following birth. Whether the infant will progress from the harmless condition of depleted iron stores to the physiological handicaps associated with iron deficiency depends on the selection of foods during the period of weaning. Consumption of fresh cow's milk and of unfortified cow's milk formulas and cereal products predispose to iron deficiency. Breast feeding, iron- and ascorbic acid-fortified cow's milk formulas and cereals, and the use of ascorbic acid-rich foods and meat decrease the likelihood of iron deficiency. Recent changes in infant feeding practices in the United States have been associated with a marked decline in iron deficiency anemia. A challenge for the future will be to extend this success, particularly to developing countries.