"This is the first study that we are aware of to report an association between prolonged bottle-feeding and iron deficiency among a nationally representative sample of children one to three years of age. Our data suggest that prolonged bottle-feeding among Mexican-American infants may be at least partly responsible for the high prevalence of iron deficiency seen in this group," says Jane Brotanek, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of pediatrics at the Medical College. Dr. Brotanek practices at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin.
The study involved more than 2,100 children ages one to three years who took part in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994). Among these children, the prevalence of iron deficiency was six percent among whites, eight percent among blacks and 17 percent among Mexican Americans.
Researchers learned that the longer children were bottle-fed, the higher the prevalence of iron deficiency. That was especially true of Mexican American children, who were most likely to be bottle-fed for prolonged periods of time and had very high rates of iron deficiency. At 24 to 48 months of age, 36.8 percent of Mexican American children were still bottle-fed, compared with 16.9 percent of white and 13.8 percent of black children.
"Toddlers who are bottle-fed consume large volumes of non-iron-fortified milk. This results in gastrointestinal blood loss together with a displacement of iron-rich foods from the diet,
Contact: Toranj Marphetia
Medical College of Wisconsin