The effect of early weaning on iron status among exclusively breastfed infants

Abstract

Background and objective: Exclusive breastfeeding is recommended for all newborns to gain optimal physical and neurodevelopmental growth. Despite all its advantages, prolonged breastfeeding alone without weaning places the child at risk of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia, which is the commonest micronutrient deficiency worldwide among infants. We investigated the effect of early weaning on the iron status of infants. Methods: We selected 100 infants; all of them were six months old. Fifty of them were exclusively breastfed for four months and started weaning between four to six months while continued to breastfeed till the age of six months (early-weaning group). Another 50 infants were exclusively breastfed for six months without starting weaning (no-weaning group). Then we investigated both groups at the age of six months for both iron and hematological studies. Results: In the present study, both study groups shared some similarities. In both groups, females accounted for more than half of the cases, the majority of the infants were residing in the urban areas, and most of the infants were delivered by cesarean section. The final result of the iron study and hematological parameters in the no-weaning group was significantly lower as compared to the early-weaning group. Both serum ferritin and serum iron were 7.42 ng/ml and 25.66 µg/dl, respectively, in the no-weaning group and were 23.94 ng/ml and 46.98 µg/dl respectively in the early-weaning group. Hemoglobin level was 10.84 gm/dl in the no-weaning group compared to 11.54 gm/dl in the early-weaning group.Conclusion: We concluded that early weaning had a great role in the prevention of both iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in exclusively breastfed infants.