CHICAGO (AP) - A new study says pudgy toddlers have an alarmingly high rate of iron deficiency.
The study in this month's issue of the Journal Pediatrics is the first to discover a link between obesity and low iron levels in preschoolers.
Iron deficiency can cause mental and behavioral delays, so the findings underscore the importance of healthy eating habits in children ages 1 to 3.
The researchers found that 20 percent of obese toddlers have iron deficiency, compared to seven percent of normal-weight toddlers.
Experts blame parents who bottle-feed toddlers cow's milk and juice, which are low in iron, instead of weaning them and introducing iron-rich foods.
The researchers also found that children who attend day care centers are about 50 percent less likely to have iron deficiency than children who aren't in day care.