The Importance of Iron

November 2, 2017
The Importance of Iron

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency among children in the United States.

However, iron deficiency most often causes no symptoms in children. 

Iron Deficiency Anemia:

  • Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia in children.    Anemia does not only result in pale skin and decreased energy, but can also affect a young child’s brain development.  Even mild iron deficiency that does not cause anemia can affect neuro-cognitive development.

Screening for Anemia:

  • The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children be screened for anemia between the ages of 9-12 months and again between the ages of 2-5 years if any risk factors.  Menstruating teenagers should also be screened for iron deficiency anemia.

Treating Iron Deficiency:

  • If your child has iron deficiency anemia, you can easily treat it by taking iron supplements and increasing iron in your child’s diet.

Ways to prevent iron deficiency:

  • Breastfed babies should take an iron supplement in addition to vitamin D after 4 months of age and up until sufficient iron-rich foods are added to the diet.
  • Formula fed babies should be given iron fortified formula.
  • Avoid cow’s milk before 12 months of age.
  • When introducing solid foods, give iron-rich foods like fortified cereals, meats, chicken and fish.  See below for more iron rich food suggestions.
  • After 12 months, limit milk to no more than 24 oz per day.  Too much milk may actually increase the likelihood of developing iron deficiency.

Click here for Dietary Sources of Iron

For more information on anemia, visit HealthyChildren.org