The Role of Bioanthropology in the Infant Formula Industry: Dietary Iron Status of American Infants



Bioanthropological methods and quantitative skills provided the tools needed to design and implement a large-scale national survey of infant food consumption and dietary status. This article considers dietary iron intake of 847 American infants ranging in age from 6.5 months to 13.4 months. Iron intake was evaluated according to demographic characteristics and for different foods (cow's milk, iron-fortified formula, non-ironfortified formula, infant ceral, commercial baby food, and homeprepared table food) . Results indicated that, across all demographic characteristics considered, a large proportion of infants who were fed a diet that included either cow's milk or non-iron-fortified formula received amounts of iron below the RDA. In contrast, infants who were fed a diet that contained an ironfortified formula had median intakes of iron above the RDA. The results also underscore the importance of the WIC program (Special Supplemental Food Program for Women, Infants, and Children) in meeting the iron needs of high-risk infants. The implications of low iron intake during infancy are considered in relation to aspects of growth and development.