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Thread: Toddler with low iron levels

  1. #1

    Default Toddler with low iron levels

    My daughter is 18 months old and has been breast-fed since birth. When she was about 10 months old I found out she had low iron reserves when she hospitalised with suspected mastoiditis, and this was confirmed again when she was about 13 months old when she was hospitalised again after a febrile convulsion. She was put on an iron supplement (at 10 months) which the consultant wanted her on for months and months, but I eventually discontinued when I discovered the additives that were in it. She's now on an iron and B Vitamin supplement which is lower dose and more natural in its constituents.

    The consultant I spoke with when she was about 16 months old wanted me to discontinue breastfeeding completely. He told me that by breast-feeding her I was preventing her from eating enough higher iron rich foods. I chose to disagree with him and have continued breast-feeding.

    However there are days when my daughter eats very little food and breast-feeds a lot. I believe there is a reason, such as teething, but at the same time I worry that she is getting enough iron.

    How would I know if she was breast-feeding too much and not eat enough food overall, for her iron levels to improve and be maintained? Is it possible for her to breast-feed too much?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: Toddler with low iron levels

    Welcome to the forum!

    The consultant was wrong. Breastfeeding does not "prevent" a baby from eating iron-solids, and there's no way you can breastfeed "too much". Breastfeeding provides balanced nutrition, but it provides a lot more than nutrition! The immunologic benefits and the mothering benefits- how can someone suggest you forego those just because of issues with iron levels? Of course, that's not to make light of the iron issue. When a baby is anemic, that's serious, and you want to do something about it- which you are. Supplementing with iron while continuing to nurse is a very reasonable middle path.

    One thing to consider is your own iron status. Breastmilk does not contain a lot of iron, but it generally contains sufficient iron, in a form which is easily assimilated by the baby. The exception to this rule comes when mom herself is anemic. A woman who doesn't have enough iron herself may produce milk which is lower in iron than average- so I encourage you to get your own iron status checked.

    Did the consultant suggest good iron-rich solids? What are you feeding your LO at this point?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2012

    Default Re: Toddler with low iron levels

    I'm in a similar situation--my 13 month old DS is anemic due to lack of iron He is on full-strength supplements as prescribed by his doctor though. She didn't say anything about not breastfeeding though she did suggest limiting all milk to 20 oz per day since too much calcium can interfere with iron absorption. Since I don't know how much he is getting from BF'ing and I don't give him cow's milk I don't worry about that particular recommendation and just BF on demand. I don't know what iron supplements you're giving your DD but I would make sure that they contain the amount of iron the doctor recommends and don't worry about the additives. Anemia is serious and can affect cognitive development and growth, among other things. You don't want your daughter to become anemic so you need to replete her iron to normal levels. Whatever additives may be in the supplements is less of a concern at this point in time than making sure she is not anemic. If you can get enough iron with natural supplements, great, but if not I would use the ones that were recommended. You could have her iron levels retested at this point to see where she is at and if she still needs the supplements. Other than that, I wouldn't worry about BF'ing 'too much' and you certainly don't need to wean, but I would make sure to offer her iron-rich foods a couple of times a day. Good iron-rich foods include fortified baby cereal, red meat, ground beef, beans, lentils, spinach. If you are not already offering food before nursing this may be the time to start doing that--that may encourage her to up her intake of solids. Good luck!
    First-time mama to Joshua, 10/29/11. 38 months ; now trying to wean. for 14 months; now finished with pump weaning!

  4. #4

    Default Re: Toddler with low iron levels

    Thanks for your replies. Had trouble logging in again hence delay in replying. Sending this from my phone so apologies if I miss something.

    It's good to know you don't think I should be restricting breast feeding.

    I am doing my best to offer her iron rich foods that I know she will eat from meat, and fish to dried fruit. And offering her vitamin c rich foods at the same time as I know that improves absorption of iron. The consultant I saw wasn't helpful suggesting apples were a source of iron...

    My GP is ok with the supplement Im giving my daughter. She is not anaemic now, its her reserves which were low.measured by ferritin in the blood (if I remember right?).

    Thanks for your welcoming me to the forum and taking time to reply. I feel better about what I'm doing.

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