Iron deficiency anemia
Children grow and develop rapidly and need iron in their diet to develop normally. If a child does not consume enough iron, there is a risk of developing iron deficiency. Iron deficiency can cause anemia, a condition that can delay a child's mental, motor, and behavioral development and create problems that last long after the iron level is raised to a healthy level. Poor motor skills, behavior problems at home and school, and poor performance in school can be the long-term consequences of not receiving enough iron as a young child (0 to 3 years of age).
Iron deficiency may also be due to a severe blood loss, a genetic disorder, or something interfering with the body's ability to absorb iron, such as a medication the child is taking or a chronic illness (e.g., celiac disease).
The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia in children 1-5 years in the U.S. is about 1-2%.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), like several other organizations, recommends that children be screened with a hemoglobin and hematocrit test if they have risk factors for iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia.
Risk factors for iron deficiency anemia in young children may include:
- Exclusive breastfeeding beyond 4 months of age without supplemental iron
- Households with a low income or living in poverty
- Drinking more than 24 ounces of cow's milk per day after 12 months of age
- History of:
- Medications that interfere with iron absorption
- Extensive blood loss
- Restricted diet that doesn't provide enough iron
- Prematurity or low birth weight
- Exposure to lead
Sources Used in Current Review
American Academy of Pediatrics. Policy Statement: 2014 Recommendations for Pediatric Preventive Health Care. Pediatrics. Available online at http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/pediatrics/133/3/568.full.pdf. Accessed October 2016.