Who gets iron deficiency anemia and how do I prevent it?
Infants who drink cow’s milk in the first year of life are at risk for iron deficiency anemia. Cow’s milk is the most common dietary cause of iron deficiency in infants. Do not give cow’s milk to your infant in the first year of life. Breastfed infants who do not eat iron-rich foods like iron-fortified cereal or take an iron supplement after the fourth month of life are at risk. If your child is breastfed, add some form of iron to the child’s diet starting at 4 to 6 months of age, using iron-fortified cereal or vitamin drops with iron. Toddlers (12 to 24 months of age) who drink a lot of cow’s milk, have a diet low in iron, or already had iron deficiency as an infant are at risk. If you use iron-fortified formula, do not give your child vitamin drops with iron. This combination provides too much iron and is not healthy. If you decide to stop breastfeeding before your infant is 12 months of age, use iron-fortified formula. Do not use low-iron formula. After your child is 12 months old,