Dr. Bakhtawar Qureshi, Dr. Uzma Muneeb, Dr. Zaeem Aamer
Objective: Iron and folic acid are essential nutrients needed for hematopoiesis. Infants’ diet is commonly deficient in these micronutrients that lead to nutritional anemia. Aim of this study was to determine serum iron, serum ferritin and red cell folate levels among healthy breast fed, fortified milk and cow’s milk fed infants. Methods: A total of 120 infants of 4-9 months of age were enrolled in this study. It included 40 normal breast fed controls, 40 fortified milk fed (FM) and 40 cow’s milk fed (CM) infants. Serum iron, serum ferritin and red cell folate concentrations were determined using colorimetric and enzyme immunoassay techniques. Results: Mean serum iron, serum ferritin and red cell folate concentrations of breast fed control group were 120.9±68.4µg/dl, 109±71.7ng/ml and 1044.1±409.2ng/ml respectively. Fortified milk (FM) group showed significantly decreased serum iron (p<0.003) as compared with controls whereas serum ferritin and red cell folate values showed insignificant change (p=0.25 and p=0.85 respectively). However serum iron, serum ferritin and red cell folate were significantly decreased in cow’s milk fed (CM) group as compared with control subjects (p<0.04, p<0.006, p<0.02 respectively). Comparison of these biochemical parameters between FM and CM groups showed statistically significant difference of serum ferritin and red cell folate among cow’s milk group (p<0.0001 and p<0.02) whereas serum iron level showed no significant difference, a p-value being 0.38. Conclusion: Healthy breast fed infants do not need any supplementation and fortification of iron and folic acid. Fortified milk appears to be an acceptable alternative in the absence of breast milk whereas cow’s milk is a poor source of iron and folic acid in infants.