In a world where iron is the most abundant element, 1.25 billion worldwide suffer from iron deficiency anemia, comprising 16% of the global population. Of these people many are young, with 43% of the world’s children suffering from iron deficiency.
A significant percentage of newborns have a low birth weight and are at high risk of iron deficiency, which brings with it various other poor health outcomes. These include a lower IQ, depression and diabetes among others. A mother’s iron stores provide 100% of a baby’s iron from conception until the age of six months, meaning the nutrition of the mother plays a crucial role in the iron levels of the child.
A delayed umbilical cord clamping and increased iron intake at birth can improve long-term health outcomes, as can maintaining higher standards of hygiene, as anemia can be triggered by the body fighting infection.
Improvements in diet later in life to include iron-rich and iron-fortified foods as well as supplements can help to correct anemia, but cannot always redress the impairments to cognitive development that may by then already have taken place.
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