Zinc and iron are essential micronutrients for the growth and brain development of infants and young children. Zinc is needed to process proteins and numerous enzymes related to metabolism and immunity. Iron is crucial for brain development. Deficiencies in these micronutrients can result in stunting and irreversible, functional alterations of the developing brain.
To address this public health problem common in low-resource settings around the world, a team of researchers set out to measure the exact amounts of zinc and iron exclusively breastfed infants receive during the first four months of age.
Their results, based on measuring both breastmilk contents and the amount of breastmilk consumed by the infants, have just been published in an open access article in Maternal & Child Nutrition: ‘Zinc and iron adequacy and relative importance of zinc/iron storage and intakes among breastfed infants’.
Before birth, the fetus receives zinc and iron via placental transfer from their mother. After birth, breastmilk is the sole supply of these micronutrients for exclusively breastfed infants. The team’s findings could help public health specialists and practitioners in the field as neonatal zinc and iron body stores are dependent on several factors, including maternal status.
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