Low iron is a fairly common childhood condition that can affect children of all ages. Researchers are working to gain more insight into what causes low iron in kids, how to prevent it and how to treat it.
As we look to understand more about this condition, research studies are underway for kids with low iron.
Why is Iron Important for Children?
Iron is an essential nutrient for everyone, kids and adults alike, but it is especiallly essential in your child’s growth and development. Iron is needed to move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body as well as helps muscles use and store oxygen.
If you child is lacking iron in their diet, he or she may develop a condition called iron deficiency. This condition can present at many levels ranging from depleted iron stores to anemia.
Anemia is a condition in which the blood lacks enough healthy red blood cells. In these cases, iron deficiency can affect a child’s growth and development if left untreated.
What Are the Risk Factors?
There are a range of risk factors for low iron, some of which are still unknown hence the research studies seeking a deeper understanding of why kids develop low iron.
Some of the known risk factors include:
-Babies who are born 3 or more weeks before their due date or have extremely low birth weight
-Babies who are given cow’s milk before their first birthday
-Babies who are breastfed and not given supplemented foods after they are 6 months old
-Babies who drink formula that is not fortified with additional iron
-Children who drink more than 24 ounces of cow’s milk each day
-Children who have been exposed to lead
-Children with chronic health conditions
While a lot is known about the common risk factors that put children in danger of low iron, there is still much to be discovered. One of the aims of the research studies for kids with low iron is to determine what additional risk factors exist, if any.
What Are the Symptoms of Iron Deficiency?
Iron deficiency symptoms can manifest differently in different children. Too little iron can affect your child’s ability to function.
However, most low iron symptoms don’t appear until iron deficiency anemia sets in. Signs and symptoms include:
-Pale skin or complexion
-Rapid breathing and heartbeat
-Slow growth and development
In rare cases of extreme anemia, children can develop unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances such as dirt, ice or paint. This condition is known as pica and is extremely rare.
It is important to understand the low iron in children can be prevented. In order to keep your child’s growth and development on track, it is vital that you offer iron rich foods to your child every day.
Your child’s pediatrician should test your child periodically for low iron and hemoglobin in their blood. With research studies underway for kids with low iron, we should soon learn more about the condition and how to treat and prevent it.