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February 26, 1988

Anemia in Low-Income Children

JAMA. 1988;259(8):1182. doi:10.1001/jama.1988.03720080018018

To the Editor.  —It was encouraging to read the article entitled "Declining Prevalence of Anemia Among Low-Income Children in the United States" by Yip et al1 in the Sept 25, 1987, issue of JAMA. The findings are probably the result of improvements in childhood iron nutrition. One possible reason for better iron nutrition for children is the increasing incidence of breast-feeding in the United States. Breast-feeding increased from about 20% of new mothers in 1975 to over 50% in 1985. Breastfeeding helps to prevent anemia by providing optimal amounts of iron and trace elements for absorption, by reducing the number of gastrointestinal hemorrhages (because breast milk does not contain foreign protein and other substances that cause gastrointestinal hemorrhage), and by reducing the number of infections during a critical period of growth.