BY DR. KHOOBSURAT NAJMA
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|
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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