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Study: Iron supplements may stem underweight babies' behavioral problems


10:43, December 13, 2012


BEIJING, Dec. 11 (Xinhuanet) -- A low birth weight has been linked to a greater likelihood of long-term health problems, but early use of iron supplements may lower that risk, according to a new study in the U.S. journal Pediatrics on Monday.

The study said iron supplements given to slightly underweight newborns may protect against behavioral risks tied to low birth weight.

It involved 285 infants who had been born with a marginally low birth weight, defined as weighing between 2,000 and 2,500 grams or about 4.4 to 5.5 pounds.

The babies received either 0, 1 or 2 milligrams per kilogram per day of iron supplements from six weeks to six months of age.

Researchers found that of the low birth weight children who took no iron supplements, nearly 13 percent showed signs of behavioral problems compared with a little less than 3 percent of those who took 1- or 2-milligram doses of daily iron supplements.

Reporting in the Pediatrics, researchers wrote that the study suggests a causal relation between infant iron deficiency and later behavioral problems.

They concluded early iron supplementation for otherwise healthy, marginally low birth weight kids could lead to long-term health benefits.

About 8 percent of U.S. births are considered a low birth weight, according to estimates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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