Preterm infants are prone to iron deficiency. Their total body iron content at birth is low and gets further depleted by clinical practices such as uncompensated phlebotomy losses and exogenous erythropoietin administration during the neonatal period. Early iron deficiency appears to adversely affect cognitive development in human infants. To maintain iron sufficiency and meet the iron demands of catch-up postnatal growth, iron supplementation is prudent in preterm infants. A dose of 2-4 mg/kg/day is recommended for preterm infants who are fed exclusively human milk. A dose of 6 mg/kg/day or more is needed with the use of exogenous erythropoietin or to correct preexisting iron deficiency. However, due to the poor antioxidant capabilities of preterm infants and the potential role of iron in several oxidant-related perinatal disorders, indiscriminate iron supplementation should be avoided.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
The authors gratefully acknowledge Ms Ginny Lyson for her editorial assistance in the preparation of the manuscript. Supported in part by a grant from the National Institutes of Health (NICHD-HD 29421).
- Iron/administration and dosage
- Iron/adverse effects