Milk Ducks and Iron Fish join forces to fight iron deficiency anemia

A swarm of buzzing maternal child health advocates surrounds the hotel pool. Guests inconspicuously and perhaps somewhat anxiously glance over their shoulders wondering what could be about to happen. The anticipation lies thick despite a nearby, gentle ocean breeze.

A woman named Kristin raises a loud speaker proudly. She passionately announces Healthy Children Project’s (HCP) International Breastfeeding Conference famous Milk Duck Race.

What follows: A blow up pool filled with well over 100 sleek, plastic ducks is hurled into the water.

The crowd erupts into fervorous cheer, encouraging the ducks to “Swim! Swim faster!”

Hotel guests can’t help but become captivated by the excitement and utter silliness. They create forceful waves urging the ducks closer and closer to their undetermined finish line.

Alas, only one of the ducks bobs sideways to victory. The duck’s holder is donned Milk Duck Queen or King or their chosen title of nobility.

This year and in 2016 the Milk Ducks (a play on milk ducts of course) raced for their friends the Lucky Iron Fish. International Breastfeeding Conference participants purchase ducks throughout the session, hold them skin-to-plastic feather (a play on skin-to-skin of course) and raise money for good causes. This year, participants raised over $1,000. This contribution will provide Lucky Iron Fish to approximately 100 families in need which can scale to over 500 people. 

“Lucky Iron Fish is committed to solving iron deficiency and investing in maternal health so that women and children can thrive physically, socially, and economically. We are honored that Healthy Children Project chose Lucky Iron Fish for the Milk Duck Race,” Lucky Iron Fish CEO and founder Dr. Gavin Armstrong says.

Photo Credit: Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise

Lucky Iron Fish Enterprise (LIFE), a social business, was established in 2012 in an effort to solve iron deficiency anemia on a global scale.

Iron deficiency– the world’s most common micronutrient deficiency–  affects 2 billion people worldwide, especially postpartum people, and has devastating social and economic consequences.

LIFE produce and sell the iron fish, a palm sized iron ingot cast made from highly absorbable iron. The Lucky Iron Fish act as prevention and intervention and last up to five years. Simply boil the fish for ten min in one liter of slightly acidified water, soup or curry and it can provide a significant portion of a person’s daily iron intake.

Dr. Alastair Summerlee, who helped facilitate the creation of Lucky Iron Fish, explains in an interview with Healthy Children Project’s Anna Blair that the convex shape of the fish encourages it to rattle on the bottom of the pot during boiling to release iron. The addition of vitamin C from adding citrus to the pot helps to further release iron as well as help with absorption in the body, he continues.

Healthy Children Project’s Karin Cadwell points out that iron deficiency is a problem in the U.S. as it is globally. What’s more, there is a hypothetical link between low iron levels and low milk production.

Cadwell goes on to point out that high-calorie lactation cookies and concoctions have become popular in an effort to boost mothers’ milk production; she suggests the Lucky Iron Fish may have a welcome place in American kitchens.

Similarly, in Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Common and Curable Disease, author Jeffery L. Miller writes that “In-home food preparations with iron supplements present an alternate to industrial scale supplementation of grains or commercial food products.” 

Mass-produced, iron-fortified baby cereals for example, provide a great deal of non-heme iron which isn’t absorbed by the body well. The Clean Label Project has found that many baby food products contain heavy metals and poor ingredient quality among other unsavory things too.

Lucky Iron Fish’s Giving Report shows a total of 54,000 lives impacted by their model in 2018.

The organization’s mission aligns with many of the Sustainable Development Goals.

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