Background: It is commonly assumed that preterm babies are malnourished and this has led to all forms of micronutrient supplementation including iron.
Objective: The aim of the study is to compare the iron content in breast milk of mothers who had preterm and term babies.
Methods: Ninety six (96) lactating mothers who delivered their babies at term and 68 lactating mothers who had preterm deliveries were recruited for the study. The mothers were attending the postnatal clinic of one secondary and two tertiary healthcare facilities in Enugu. Breast milk iron concentration was determined by Atomic Absorption Spectrophotometer.
Results: The differences in the mean values for the iron concentrations in preterm and term breast milk were statistically significant (39.06±10.78 versus 32.79±14.17 μmol/L, P =0.02). In both groups, the breast milk iron concentration gradually decreased as lactation progressed. (P <0.0001).
Conclusion: The iron content of breast milk from mothers who had preterm babies is higher when compared to mothers who had term babies. It may thus be needless to introduce exogenous iron during lactation.