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Infant Formula With High Iron Content Packs Brain Disorder

Infant formula contains 12 times more iron compared to breast milk, suggests a research of Buck Institute. Neuro degeneration, seen in Parkinson’s disease can be caused// due to high intake of iron in infancy – finds a study with neonatal mice which was fed with human equivalent iron supplementation from human infant formula.

Patients with PD have long been shown to have elevated levels of iron in the brain, compared to those without the incurable, progressive neurodegenerative disorder which affects 1.5 million people in this country. The symptoms of PD include tremor, slowness of movement, rigidity and problems with balance. Epidemiologic studies suggest that there is not a clear correlation between dietary iron intake in adults and the incidence of PD. The question remains, how does the iron get into the brain? Research led by Buck Institute faculty member Julie Andersen, PhD, suggests that the iron can collect in the brain during the first two years of life, before the human blood/brain barrier is fully closed.

The research involved delivering iron orally to mouse pups on a daily basis starting at ten days of age for one week. That time period is equivalent to the first year of human life; the dosage was equivalent to the amount of iron in fortified infant formula. The mice were then allowed to age normally to two, 12, 16 and 24 months of age. Iron levels were measured in the substantia nigra (SN), an area of the brain where dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with Parkinson’s disease, is made. Excess iron is believed to cause oxidative stress which eventually destroys the neurons which produce dopamine.

Iron levels in the iron-fed pups were found to be significantly increased in the SN by two months of age; by 12 months of age (the human equivalent of middle-age) the mice began to show signs of SN neurodegeneration. Within 16 -24 months (60 to 80 years of age in humans) the mice showed an actual loss of dopamine-producing neu
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