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Iron intakes of Australian infants and toddlers: findings from the Melbourne Infant Feeding, Activity and Nutrition Trial (InFANT) Program

  • Linda A. Atkins (a1), Sarah A. McNaughton (a1), Karen J. Campbell (a1) and Ewa A. Szymlek-Gay (a1)


Fe deficiency remains the most common nutritional deficiency worldwide and young children are at particular risk. Preventative food-based strategies require knowledge of current intakes, sources of Fe, and factors associated with low Fe intakes; yet few data are available for Australian children under 2 years. This study’s objectives were to determine intakes and food sources of Fe for Australian infants and toddlers and identify non-dietary factors associated with Fe intake. Dietary, anthropometric and socio-demographic data from the Melbourne Infant Feeding, Activity and Nutrition Trial Program were analysed for 485 infants (mean age: 9·1 (sd 1·2) months) and 423 toddlers (mean age: 19·6 (sd 2·6) months) and their mothers. Dietary intakes were assessed via 24-h recalls over 3 non-consecutive days. Prevalence of inadequate Fe intake was estimated using the full probability approach. Associations between potential non-dietary predictors (sex, breast-feeding status, age when introduced to solid foods, maternal age, maternal education, maternal employment status and mother’s country of birth) and Fe intakes were assessed using linear regression. Mean Fe intakes were 9·1 (sd 4·3) mg/d for infants and 6·6 (sd 2·4) mg/d for toddlers. Our results showed that 32·6 % of infants and 18·6 % of toddlers had inadequate Fe intake. Main food sources of Fe were Fe-fortified infant formula and cereals for infants and toddlers, respectively. Female sex and current breast-feeding were negatively associated with infant Fe intakes. Introduction to solid foods at or later than 6 months was negatively associated with Fe intake in toddlers. These data may facilitate food-based interventions to improve Australian children’s Fe intake levels.

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Corresponding author

* Corresponding author: Dr E. A. Szymlek-Gay, fax +61 3 9244 6017, email


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