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Public health

Babies with anemia sleep less

Antoni Shkraba / Pexels  Infants who sleep less than 10 hours a day might be suffering from a lack of ironAntoni Shkraba / Pexels 

Babies who sleep less than they should do may have iron deficiency anemia, caused by a lack of iron. The association between sleep duration and the disorder was identified in a Federal University of Alagoas (UFAL) study involving 123 infants born in Rio Largo, near the state capital of Maceió. The babies were followed for a year, with sleep and blood data collected at three, six, and 12 months of age. Analyses indicated that 37% of the babies slept for less than 10 hours a day, which is the minimum amount recommended for the age group, and 85% had iron deficiency anemia, defined for children under five as blood hemoglobin levels below 11 grams per deciliter (g/dL). Of the babies who slept for less than 10 hours, 93.3% had anemia. National surveys have recorded anemia in 10% of children under five months of age and 18.9% of children aged six to 23 months. Among the families of the children monitored by the UFAL researchers, almost half (43%) earned less than one minimum monthly salary. Also characterized by pale skin and weakness, untreated anemia can impair growth, lead to chronic diseases, and cause cognitive damage (Revista Paulista de Pediatria, July).