Children not weaned from the bottle at an appropriate age have an increased chance of becoming iron deficient, warns a UT Southwestern Medical Center pediatrician.
"Given the detrimental long-term effects of iron deficiency, preventing it in early childhood is important," says Dr. Jane Brotanek.
Iron deficiency, a common cause of anemia, results in impaired bone marrow and muscle function. Iron-deficiency anemia in infancy and early childhood is associated with behavioral and cognitive delays, including impaired learning, decreased school achievement, and lower scores on tests of mental and motor development.
Dietary practices leading to iron deficiency include exclusive breastfeeding beyond six months not supplemented by iron-rich foods or vitamins with iron, early introduction of milk, prolonged bottle feeding, and excessive consumption of cow's milk.
Dr. Brotanek suggests parents wean children from the bottle at about 1 year of age. Parents can introduce their child to the cup around 9-10 months of age, so that he/she can get used to it and slowly learn to use a cup. Toddlers should eat plenty of iron-rich foods (spinach, eggs, iron-fortified breads and cereals, meats) and drink no more than two cups (16 oz.) cow's milk daily.
Visit http://www.utsouthwestern.org/patientcare/medicalservices/pediatrics.html to learn more about UT Southwestern's clinical services in pediatrics.
Media Contact: Erin Prather Stafford
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