Low iron in children can be relatively common, however, parents are usually alarmed when they get the diagnosis and frantically search for what to do when their child suffers from low iron.
In this article we’ll cover what low iron means, what the symptoms are, and what you can do if your child suffers from low iron.
Why Iron Is Important For Children
Iron is an essential nutrient in your child’s diet because it helps support their growth and development. Iron helps to move oxygen from your child’s lungs to the rest of their body and also helps their muscles to use and store oxygen.
If you child’s diet is lacking in proper iron, he or she may develop iron deficiency, or low iron. There are many degrees of low iron, from mild cases to anemia, which is a condition that occurs when the blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells.
Any degree of low iron can affect your child’s growth and development, making it vital that healthcare providers track iron levels in children and make sure parents know how to bolster iron levels when they’re low.
The good news is, low iron in children can be treated and prevented.
Low Iron In Children: Risk Factors
There are a number of risk factors for infants and children when it comes to iron deficiency, including:
- Babies who are born prematurely
- Babies who drink cow’s milk or goat’s milk before age 1
- Breast-fed babies who aren’t supplemented with iron-rich foods after age 6 months
- Formula-fed babies whose formula doesn’t contain added iron
- Children aged 1 to 5 years who drink in excess of 24 ounces of cow, goat, or soy milk per day
- Children aged 1 to 5 years who have been exposed to lead
- Children on a restricted diet or who suffer from chronic infections
My Child Has Low Iron, What Do I Do?
First, if your child has been diagnosed with low iron, don’t panic. There are a number of reasons why your child may be suffering from this condition and there are ways to remedy it, including:
Serve Iron-Rich Foods
When your baby is old enough to ingest solids, anywhere from 4-6 months, feed him or her foods with added iron. Iron-fortified cereal, pureed beans and pureed meats all contain a wealth of extra iron. For older children, you can encourage more red meats, chicken, beans, fish, and dark leafy veggies.
Control Milk Intake
Monitoring your child’s milk (cow, goat, soy) intake and ensuring they aren’t getting more than 24 ounces in one day.
Increase Vitamin C
Vitamin C helps to promote the absorption of iron in the body. Offer your child citrus fruits, strawberries, bell peppers, tomatoes and dark green veggies.
If your child’s doctor determined that iron levels are low, they may prescribe an iron supplement that can be taken as a liquid or a pill. These treatments usually last for a 3 month period to help iron get absorbed into the body. Following this treatment, utilizing the other methods to increase iron in the diet will help keep the levels where they should be.
Participate In Clinical Trials
There are a number of clinical trials being conducted right now that are testing new treatments designed to treat children with low iron. By participating in these clinical trials, your child can have access to new, cutting edge medicines and treatments that may work better and faster than any other traditional treatment option.