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Baby Formula and Iron Content (2021)

Baby Formula and Iron Content (2021)

Baby Formula And Iron Content

How Much Iron Does My Baby Need?

Infants are born with a reserve of iron that is sufficient for 4 to 6 months after birth. It is found as hemoglobin and tissue protein. Iron is in mother’s milk and it is recommended that infants are on breastmilk for at least six months. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), a term infant needs about 1 mg/kg per day to meet the estimated iron requirement. In order to reduce the risk of iron-deficiency anemia during the first year, formula-fed babies should have iron included in their infant formula. This has been the position of the AAP since 1969. Iron absorption seems greater in cow's milk compared to soy formula. The actual amount per serving may vary from brand to brand. 

If My Baby Already Has Iron at Birth, Why is it in Formula?

Baby formula comes close to the nutrition every infant needs for the first year of life. 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. The addition of iron reduces the risk of iron deficiency anemia which makes one feel tired and weak.

Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia

  • Slow weight gain
  • Pale skin
  • Reduced appetite
  • Irritability including cranky and fussy

Why Do Some Baby Formulas Have Less Iron?

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.

Is There Enough Iron in European Organic Formulas?

Formulas from Europe including Hipp, Holle, and Lebenswert maintain a level of about 0.76- 0.99 mg of iron per 100 calories. However, all of the infant formulas in question are Stage PRE (from birth to 3 months) and Stage 1 (from birth to 12 months) when an infant’s iron reserve is high and generally out of range of iron-deficiency anemia. This means they are in compliance with the European Union and the minimal recommendation of the World Health Organization.

The iron values may not be enough for children who are at risk of iron-deficiency anemia including babies who were born premature or with low birth weights. Their iron reserves may not be at the same level as a full-term baby, so the amount of iron in their infant formula is very important for their growth and developmental needs.

Formula

Mg per 100 calories

Formula

Mg per 100 calories

Hipp German HA PRE

0.76

Holle PRE

0.81

Hipp German HA Stage 1

1.01

Holle Stage 1

0.81

Hipp German HA Stage 2

1.43

Holle Stage 2

1.18

Hipp Anti Reflux

1.06

Holle Goat Stage 1

0.99

Hipp Comfort

0.91

Holle Goat Stage 2

1.47

Hipp German Stage 1 Combiotic

0.90

Holle Goat Stage 3

1.52

Hipp German Stage 2 Combiotic

1.47

Lebenswert Stage 1

0.88

Hipp Dutch Stage 1

0.76

Lebenswert Stage 2

1.43

Hipp Dutch Stage 2

1.47

Loulouka Stage 1

1.1

Hipp UK Stage 1

0.76

Loulouka Stage 2

1.5

Hipp UK Stage 2

1.47

Loulouka Stage 3

1.5

NannyCare Stage 1

0.71

NannyCare Stage 2

0.89

NannyCare Stage 3

0.91

Is a European Organic Formula Right for Your Baby?

Before you make any changes to your baby's formula, check with your pediatrician to ensure that your child has sufficient iron. This can be done with a simple blood test. If you have a full term baby, enjoy the benefits and goodness of your favorite formula, and do not have confidence in the ingredients of American-made infant formulas, then any of the formulas that we offer on our website will be right for your baby. 

One European baby formula does have the highest iron levels, especially in Stage 1. Loulouka has 1.1 mg per 100 calories compared to less than 1 mg with other formulas.

Another point to consider is that Hipp, Holle, and Lebenswert have been nourishing infants in Europe and around the world for decades, and all of the products along with NannyCare and Loulouka have years of research focused on the health and well-being of all infants. They meet or exceed the strict guidelines of European Union food and organic regulations. They are also compliant with the expectations of the World Health Organization. 

Iron is a part of a healthy diet in other ways. There are iron supplements that are approved for babies. Even nursing mothers are encouraged to take iron supplements to pass through their milk. Solid foods are also fortified with iron when your little one starts cereals and other foods, both plant-based and meat-based. Also, by the time that your baby starts to deplete their iron reserves, you can consider moving up to the next stage which contain more iron. 

If your baby is at risk of iron-deficiency anemia, talk to your doctor. Otherwise, you can be assured that the same formula that has been a part of organic infant nutrition for almost 90 years in Europe is safe for your child too.

 

Resources:

Iron Needs of Babies and Children

Daily Iron Supplementation for Children 6-23 Months of Age