Your baby's formula is fortified to ensure that there are enough nutrients that will aid your little one's growth and development. The excess fetal red blood cells that stay in the baby's system for the first four months work together with the dietary iron that comes in their nutrition aids in the expansion of red blood cell mass.
When your baby is born, they typically have enough iron in their system to last about the first four to six months of life. It is found as hemoglobin and tissue protein. In order to reduce the risk of iron-deficiency anemia during the first year, babies should have iron included in their infant formula. This has been the position of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) since 1969.
According to the AAP, a term infant needs about 1 mg/kg per day to meet the estimated iron requirement. Iron absorption seems greater in cow's milk compared to soy formula. The actual amount per serving may vary from brand to brand. Hipp formula from Europe maintains a level of about one-half mg of iron as it is the minimal recommendation of the World Health Organization.
There is a concern that excessive iron content can lead to a fussy baby with symptoms like colic and constipation. However there is little medical evidence that iron is the cause of these discomforts. Low-iron formula is not recommended by AAP because it increases the risk of iron-deficiency anemia. According to a 1999 article in the AAP's journal Pediatrics, a low-iron formula contains less than 6.7 mg/L. It can be as low as 1.1 mg/L depending on the manufacturer. Studies at that time showed that the rate of iron-deficiency anemia increased when iron was that low.
Brands such as Hipp and Holle are iron-fortified under the European guidelines. By following the minimal recommendation of WHO, it is actually less than the brands under U.S. guidelines. Many parents prefer the European brands because the American brands tend to make their babies constipated from excess iron. In the 1999 Pediatrics article, U.S. iron-fortified formulas had between 10 mg/L to 12 mg/L while Europe's iron-fortified formulas had between 4 mg/L to 7 mg/L.
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