Have you as a parent observed symptoms like lethargy in your kids or even difficulty in breathing? If so, do get a complete blood test done to check your child’s hemoglobin levels. If the hemoglobin count is too low, your child may be suffering from iron deficiency anemia. It may be due to various reasons. Having a lot of worms may also reflect symptoms like iron deficiency anemia in children. Also, a diet lacking in iron may force your child to develop anemia. Certain malabsorption disorders and gut disorders may also lead to iron deficiency anemia. Piles in children can cause anemia. Children who are deficient in iron may have certain cravings for non-nutritive foods like chalk. These are symptoms to figure out if your child is deficient in iron.
Iron is one of the macronutrients that are essential for the child's proper growth and development. However, in some kids, it may not be of sufficient levels to carry out various functions efficiently.
Why Is Iron Important for Children?
Iron helps in the movement of oxygen from the lungs to various tissues of the body and aids muscles in storing and using oxygen. When the child's diet lacks iron, he or she might develop a condition called the iron deficiency. Iron deficiency in children is not a rare health issue. Its severity can vary from mild deficiency to iron deficiency anemia, which is a condition characterized by insufficient healthy red blood cells in the blood. Untreated iron deficiency can lead to problems in the child's growth and development.
How Much Iron Do Children Need?
Iron is continuously required by the body at different stages of life, and so is true for infants and children. The following table mentions the recommended dosage of iron at different ages:
Who Is at Risk for Iron Deficiency Anemia?
Infants and children who are at the highest risk of iron deficiency anemia are listed as follows:
What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Iron Deficiency Anemia in Children?
The signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia include the following:
Slow growth and development.
Abnormally rapid breathing.
Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, like ice, dirt, paint, etc.
How Can Iron Deficiency Anemia Be Prevented in Children?
Iron deficiency anemia can certainly be prevented by following the tips mentioned below:
Make Your Kid Consume Iron-Rich Sources: When you start providing your baby with solid foods, usually between the age of 4 to 6 months, serve them foods with supplemented iron, like iron-fortified baby cereal, pureed meats, pureed beans, etc. For premature infants, feed them with an iron supplement from the age of two weeks until the age of one year. In breastfed babies or those relying on iron-fortified formula, discontinue the supplement. Iron deficiency anemia can be prevented by consuming iron-rich foods like a diet consisting of enough greens, chicken, liver, garden cress seeds, and flaxseeds. If your child does not like consuming green leafy vegetables, you can incorporate them into their diet in the form of a cutlet with different shapes like heart-shaped, square-shaped, or star-shaped cutlets. All these things fascinate children a lot, and they might end up consuming them. Garden cress sweet balls can be given to them to prevent anemia. A mixed bar loaded with iron can be provided to children made up of flaxseeds, garden cress seeds, dates, and oats. Dates are also a rich source of iron. Dates and nuts smoothies are also good options to keep iron deficiency anemia at bay.
Deworm Your Child Once in Six Months: Make sure that you deworm your child once every six months so that your child does not suffer from iron deficiency anemia due to worms in their gut. Albendazole and Mebendazole can be given to such children. Make sure you do not overdo it, as it may lead to various health effects on your kid.
Make Your Child Include Sources of Vitamin C: You may be wondering what vitamin C deficiency has to do with regard to anemia. Well, if your child’s diet lacks vitamin C, iron would not be properly absorbed in their body, leading to iron deficiency anemia. Hence, do include good sources of vitamin C in their diet like gooseberry (amla), lemon, and citrus fruits like oranges and melons. Pomegranate and strawberries not only carry vitamin C but also contain iron. Hence, they can be given to children to prevent iron deficiency anemia. They promote iron absorption and also show wonderful benefits to the skin — preventing acne formation in teenagers. They also destroy free radical activity, which may lead to various cardiovascular diseases like atherosclerosis, coronary artery disease, ischemic heart disease, and heart attack. Hence, do not forget to incorporate them into the diet of your child.
As appropriate amounts of iron are necessary to have for each child at different ages, all the tips mentioned above should be followed religiously by the parents or caregivers to ward off iron deficiency anemia in children.
Frequently Asked Questions