Iron Deficiency In Children

Patient Education

What is the role of iron in the diet?

Iron is essential for life because it is indispensable for several biological reactions such as oxygen transport, DNA synthesis, and cell proliferation. It is important for the formation of hemoglobin in the body.

Who are at risk of iron deficiency?

Infants and toddlers represent a risk population for iron deficiency (ID), due to their relatively high requirements, which are frequently associated with a poor intake of iron-rich foods.

What are the health consequences of iron deficiency?

A possible association between iron deficiency in infancy and early childhood and impaired cognitive and psychomotor development has been described, and it has been suggested that some of these effects can be irreversible. Iron deficiency impairs growth in children.

How common is iron deficiency in India?

In India prevalence of anemia at all ages remains very high e.g. 84.9-86% of pregnant women in rural areas are affected and 9.3-9.9% have severe anemia, 64% children between 9-36 months of age as anemic with 7.8% having severe anemia.

What are the symptoms of iron deficiency?

Children with iron deficiency can have fatigue, irritability, palpitation. dizziness, breathlessness, and headache. They may have gastritis, a smooth bald tongue due to loss of papillary growth, the softness of the nails leading to flattening and spooning of nails (called as koilonychia), and poor body temperature control. Some children will also start eating mud or clay (pica).

What are the causes of iron deficiency in children?

Common causes of iron deficiency in children are eating a diet poor in iron and worms in the intestines such as roundworms and hookworms which lead to loss of iron in stools. Other causes are malaria and blood loss.

How is the diagnosis of iron deficiency made?

During the initial stages of iron deficiency, the liver, spleen, and bone marrow show reduced iron stores. This can be detected by doing blood ferritin levels which are low. Soon the blood iron content is also decreased and bone marrow does not get any iron for the formation of hemoglobin. This can be detected by decreased transferrin saturation <16% and increased free erythrocyte porphyrin. Subsequently, the hemoglobin levels fall causing iron deficiency anemia.

What is the daily iron requirement for normal growth?

The daily iron requirement in various age groups is depicted in Table given below:

Age Iron needs in mg/kg
Birth weight gm <1000 4
Birth weight gm 1000-1500 3
Low birth weight 2
Full term 1
Upto 10 years 10 mg/day
> 11 years (Girls) 15 mg/day
> 11 years (Boys) 12 mg/day
Pregnant 30 mg/day

What is the treatment of iron deficiency?

The treatment of iron deficiency consists of supplementation of iron. Iron can be given as syrups, tablets, and even injections.

How can iron deficiency be prevented? Which are foods rich in iron?

Baby should be breast fed colostrum and mature milk. Both have 49% absorbable iron. This is sufficient with available stores till baby doubles the birth weight. Weaning foods should have one iron rich dietary item. Foods rich in iron can be consumed such as green leafy vegetable, mustard leaves (sarson), amaranth (chauli), colocasia leaves (arvi), bengal gram greens (channa), shepu of sow, turnip greens (shalgum), radish green (mooli), spinach (palak), cereals and sprouted pulses, jaggery (gur), meat,fish, and liver. Iron absorption is enhanced from diets having ascorbic acid/vitamin C such as lime, lemon, orange, amla, green mango etc. Fortification of with iron can also help to prevent iron deficiency.

Iron Deficiency in Children Iron Deficiency in Children 2014-09-15
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