Sunday, August 9, 2009

More research

I found a very helpful pro-breastfeeding article on the breastfed baby and iron. My belief in the properties of breastmilk is so strong that I just wasn't satisfied with the previous information. This article indicates that the method I'm using to combat Anna's anemia could actually be making things worse. It is better to use high-iron foods to increase her hemoglobin, rather than iron-enriched foods (such as cereal). Additionally, liquid-iron supplementation is particularly problematic because more of it is available to the new bacteria present in the baby's gut (solid food changes baby's intestines--giving them a bacterial presence that breastmilk alone prohibits.) The bacteria utilize the freely-available iron, making less available for absorption into baby's body. Since the bacteria also diminishes the absorption properties of breastmilk, baby might actually be getting less iron than before.

The article includes a link about a mother whose baby tested at 9.1 when she was 7 months, 1 week old. Anna tested at 8.9 at 7 months, 12 days old. The baby in the article was given a small portion of high-iron foods and plenty of breastmilk--but no supplementation--and the hemoglobin went to a normal level in five weeks.

Here is the main article.

Like the author of the article, I do believe that breastmilk is a perfect food for a baby's entire first year, and possibly beyond. Anna was at high risk because of her birth weight being below 6.5 pounds, and because her growth rate has been rapid. Both of these factors caused a depletion of iron stores (present at birth) at a faster rate than they would deplete in the average baby. Anna was 5 pounds, 9 ounces at birth, and now at 8 months, she is 16 pounds, 10 ounces. She was 15 pounds at 6 months.

Timothy, born at the same birth weight, also grew rapidly, but he apparently did fine and has no developmental issues--leading me to believe his iron level probably wasn't an issue. He ate some solids starting at 9 months, but it wasn't until 18 months that his interest picked up and he began to eat three very small solid meals.

If your baby had a normal birth weight and the growth rate has been normal (doubled birth weight around 5-6 months, and tripled it around 1 year) then your baby's iron level is probably fine and you needn't rush the solids. When you do start solids, try using naturally iron-rich foods over iron-ENRICHED.

I've found that conventional advice for solids is mainly for the formula-fed baby. Some doctors aren't interested in digging deeper into the innate properties of breastmilk. Nevertheless, it is probably beneficial to have an iron test around nine months, just in case. The skin prick was barely noticed by Anna. And keep in mind that the iron level in a breastfed baby is particularly vulnerable when solids first start, if the solids chosen are iron-enriched, and especially if they are not served with vitamin C.

1 comment:

Sandi said...

I remember when my daughter was born over 9 years ago I was given flack becaude she was eight months only breastfeed and not on solids yet. She was fine though. I always let my babies eat solids when they show interest and they all doubled their birth middle guy tripled it LOL!
My oldest started solids at 8 months my middle guy 6 months and Eli...well he is the biggest and best eater so far. He loves to nurse, he loves solids and he loves goat milk. He just loves food. He started smacking his gums at me during dinner at 4 1/2 months. I didn't start feeding him just yet but he was under 6 months. I don't even puree his food anymore and he just turned 10 months. He chews without any teeth...crazy little boy. I am rambling now :o)

Glad you are finding the info you need.

Off to bed

PS Congrats to Daniel.