New Baby Formula Risk: Iron-Fortified Baby Formula Linked to Neurodevelopmental Delays in Healthy Children

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Natural parenting blog publishes results of a long-term study showing possible negative effects of iron-fortified baby formula

The findings of a long-term study suggest that iron-fortified baby formula hampers the neurobehavioral growth and development of healthy infants.

The study found that, compared to infants who were fed low-iron formula, the group who received iron-fortified baby formula had lower scores in the Bruininks-Oseretsky test, IQ test, spatial memory, reading and arithmetic skills, and visual-motor integration.

Infants in the fortified-iron group had 11 IQ points less than the low-iron group.

The study involved almost 500 Chilean babies who were all assessed to have normal iron levels at 6 months of age. Half of the children were fed low-iron formula for one year, while the other half received iron-fortified formula. The children were tested every year until age 10.

The bottom line: iron-fortified baby formula should only be given to babies who are iron-deficient to begin with.

The main investigator of the study was Betsy Lozoff, MD, professor of pediatrics and communicable diseases at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. She presented the study in May 2008 at the joint meeting of the Pediatric Academic Societies and Asian Society for Pediatric Research. A report on the study is available at Medscape ( (, an informational website on natural parenting, is helping to publicize the results of this study, in an effort to help make the public informed about the risks of baby formula use.

The site quoted Betty Sterken, Executive Director of Infant Feeding Action Coalition ( as saying, "if the infants fed the high iron formula had been compared to breastfed controls one could expect the difference to be even greater."

Various studies have found breastfed infants to have higher IQ scores than formula-fed infants, even up to adulthood.

Blog author Alexis Rodrigo says, "I'm concerned that more than 6 months after this study was presented, the public still has not heard of these results."

A certified childbirth educator and former staff of UNICEF, Rodrigo says, "Parents want to make informed choices, but sadly we do not often have all the information we need to make truly informed choices."


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Maria Alexis Rodrigo

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