Sorry to state the bleeding obvious, but I have seen it bandied about today that breastmilk contains no iron. Once here on the main In the News thread, which went uncorrected. Another time on the BBC website in a comment written, rather worryingly, by a b/f peer supporter. I quote: "As a trained NCT volunteer Breastfeeding Peer Supporter I am meant to give others the information that exclusive breastfeeding for six months is best, but when I read that a newborn's reserves of iron (*which* isn'tpresentinbreastmilk (my emphasis)) only last for six months, I decided to introduce solids at just over five months for my own daughter, as I was worried that if introduction took too long, she might become deficient."
So to clarify, this (abridged) from the NHS document "The Constituents of Breastmilk":
"Iron is important for the formation of blood. Different mammalian milks contain similar, very small amounts of iron... Breastmilk has a relatively low iron content, but the iron is bound inside the lactoferrin molecule, which makes it easier for the infant to absorb... Therefore, in spite of the apparently low levels of iron in breastmilk, exclusively breastfed babies do get enough iron... until at least 6 months of age, often longer"
Perhaps this should be in Pedants' Corner , but I think it's important that everybody knows that breastmilk DOES contain iron, and enough of it.
You are right, it is important people know. Well done for being a pedant!
But I think a lot of damage has been done by the stupid headlines out today. Its the kind of thing that people will think "I'm sure I heard somewhere breastfeeding was bad ... err... can't remember the details" And it will give ammunition to all those unsupportive families and partners.
I'm an intelligent, educated person, and I've found myself very confused and worried today about iron, food allergies and weaning.
Headlines today have been incredibly damaging for BF, whether the WHO research and recommendations are revised or not. Who's going to bother grappling with the (considerable) complexities of what's being discussed when they read 'Breast not best'? Totally agree with albrecht. Really, really depressing.
It seems there is always something new about the best way to feed your baby.
I have been BF and have only just started solids with my LO at 6 months with the iron situation in mind - and was berating myself today for not starting solids earlier (not that i've notice my LO being anaemic at all), but your information has reassured me that it's unlikely that any harm was done as breastmilk DOES contain iron.
I am still breastfeeding DS 16 months and have been wondering about the iron thing. At his 1 year check the HV gave us a leaflet about iron, listing iron content in several foods, and top of the list was follow on milk .
Breastmilk was not even mentioned, and I'm having trouble finding anything on kellymom about how much iron would be in BM after a year. I really want to write to the HV and suggest they add breastmilk as a source of iron for toddlers but need to find a reference! Surely the iron content and bioavailability thing isn't markedly different after a year?