Iron Deficiency Anemia in Children

Image of Children suffering from Iron Deficiency Anemia


What Is Iron-Deficiency Anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia occurs when there are low iron levels in the body leading to impaired oxygen delivery to the body cells. Iron deficiency can negatively affect growth and development of both the mind and body of a child.

Why is iron important for the body?

Iron is important for formation of hemoglobin, a protein that helps in circulating oxygen to the whole body.

Normal Hemoglobin Levels for Children

Age Group Normal Hemoglobin Level
6 months-4 years >=11.0g/dL
5-12 years >=11.5g/dL
12-15 years >=12.0g/dL

Hemoglobin values below these levels may indicate anemia.

Signs and symptoms:

  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue or weakness
  • Slow cognitive and social development
  • Inflammation of the tongue
  • Difficulty maintaining body temperature
  • Increased vulnerability of infections
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or pure starch

How to prevent iron deficiency?

  • Breast-feeding until the child turns one.
  • If the baby is on formula, use iron-fortified infant formula.
  • Cow’s milk isn’t a good source of iron for babies and isn’t recommended for children younger than age 1.
  • When starting the baby on solid foods, feed him/her foods with added iron, such as iron-fortified baby cereal.
  • Between ages 1 and 5, don’t allow your child to drink more than 24 ounces (700 ml) of milk a day.
  • For older children, good sources of iron include eggs, red meat, chicken, fish, beans, bananas, dried figs, apricots and dark green leafy vegetables.
  • Vitamin C helps promote the absorption of dietary iron. Some vitamin C rich foods include melon, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes and potatoes.
  • If your child isn’t eating two or more servings a day of iron-rich foods, talk to your child’s doctor about oral iron supplements.

How to detect iron deficiency?

Talk to your child’s doctor about the need for screenings and iron supplements. Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are typically diagnosed through these blood tests:

  • Complete blood count (CBC) determines the number, size, volume, and hemoglobin content of red blood cells.
  • Blood Iron and Serum Ferritin tests show the body’s total iron stores.


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108 thoughts on “Iron Deficiency Anemia in Children

  1. archana

    Is CBC test enough to check iron level in the body.if the CBC test result is satisfactory then also Blood iron and serom ferritin tests are required?

    1. Dr Khoobsurat Najma

      Archana, CBC test shows the hemoglobin levels and not the iron levels. if there is iron deficiency, the hemoglobin will be low. However, if the CBC test is normal, then there is no need to check blood iron and ferritin levels.

  2. sourabh

    I checked my hemoglobin and result is my hemoglobin is 18.3 is it ok my age 22 , hight 5.9 and weight 68

    1. Dr Khoobsurat Najma

      Sourabh, are you sure it is 18.3? Your hemoglobin is slightly on the higher side. I would suggest you to consult a physician for further evaluation.

  3. usha tejuja

    Very useful n eye opening information. Want to know iron tava for making chapatti helps in iron in body?

  4. sarath

    1 year before my 2 year old daughter has sane symtoms and medical college doctors prescribed us daily 1ml of iron supplement after a 3 month treatment my daughter recovered.

    1. Dr Khoobsurat Najma

      yes Khalid, dates are an excellent source of iron and if consumed on a daily basis they can help in increasing Hb levels.


    Nice info and a very good app pls establish ur app services in banglore karnataka so that ppl in karnataka can get help of it
    Thank you

  6. Rahul Jain

    My child is 2 year old and she is drinking more than 2000ml in 24 hours. My child is not eating food properly so that im giving her milk as a supplement food.

    I am grateful to read this important information, definitely i shall change diets of my daughter.

    Thank you



  8. Zavvar Kazim

    You suggested for a baby less than 1 year should not fed on cow milk.
    Is buffalo milk is better than cow.?
    Or any other animal’s milk is suitable?
    Pl sugg

    1. Dr Khoobsurat Najma

      Zawwar the best milk for the baby is mother’s milk. Buffalo’s milk has very high fat content and is not recommended for children under 1 years. if for some reason the baby cannot take breast milk, he should be given formula milk as per the pediatrician’s advice.

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  10. Sanjyot Bhagwat

    Please suggest supplements from regular food items which are readily available for adult anemic patients .

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