Evaluation of Serum Iron Status of Lactating Mothers on Exclusive Breastfeeding in Enugu, South East Nigeria.
Background: It is generally believed that a lactating mother is in a negative nutritional balance and this has often led to all forms of micronutrient supplementation including iron. However the iron status of our lactating mothers has received little or no evaluation.
Aim: In this study, we determined the serum iron (SI), total iron binding capacity (TIBC) and percentage transferrin saturation (%TS) in lactating mothers on exclusive breastfeeding.
Methods: Seventy (70) apparently healthy female subjects aged between 22-42 years were recruited. Fifty (50) were recruited from lactating mothers on exclusive breast feeding (EBF) attending the post-natal clinic of the University of Nigeria Teaching Hospital (UNTH) and Enugu State University Teaching Hospital(ESUTH), while twenty (20) non-lactating mothers served as control. After a 24 hour dietary recall, SI was determined by atomic absorption spectrometry (model 2380; Perkin Elmer, Walthman, MA),TBIC by Bathophenanthroline method %TS calculated from the TIBC.
Results: There were no statistically significant differences in age, parity, estimated caloric and iron intake (p>0.05). The mean values for the lactating mothers on EBF were, serum iron 172.2 ±45.3 μg/100ml, total iron binding capacity 313.7±70.5μg/100ml and percentage transferrin saturation 54.8%. The mean values for the control group were, serum iron 121.2 ± 30.9μg/100ml, TIBC 335.6±88.2μg/100ml and %TS 36.1%.The differences were statistically significant (P<0.001) Conclusion: Exclusive breast feeding does not deplete maternal serum iron, hence does not have any adverse effect on maternal iron metabolism and homeostasis. As a result, Iron supplementation in lactating mothers on EBF, may not confer any advantage especially when maternal nutrition is adequate.
Key words; Iron status, lactating mothers, exclusive breastfeeding