Infants born pre-term are at high risk of iron deficiency, which may have adverse effects on brain development and function, as well as general growth. Up to 75 percent of pre-term infants develop iron deficiency anemia within the first six months of life. Walter Mihatsch looks at various studies since the 1950s which explain the role of iron in pre-term infants then goes on to look at more recent clinical research which has investigated when and how iron should be supplemented, and in what quantity.
There is generally a lack of data regarding the effects of early iron intervention on development in later life, although the available studies do show that supplementation may be beneficial on long term gross motor function and in preventing disability. He explains the standard methods of monitoring iron status and details the ever-present risk of iron toxicity as humans cannot excrete excess iron from the body.