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Tips To Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia In Children

Published on Dec 26, 2018 and last reviewed on Jan 12, 2023   -  5 min read


Iron deficiency anemia is common in children. Scroll down through the article below to know how it can be avoided.

Tips To Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia In Children


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:

Recommended dosage of Iron

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:

  • Pale skin.

  • Fatigue.

  • Cold extremities.

  • Slow growth and development.

  • Poor appetite.

  • Abnormally rapid breathing.

  • Behavioral problems.

  • Frequent infections.

  • 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.

  • Avoid Overconsumption of Milk: During the age range of 1 to 5 years, do not let your child consume more than 24 ounces (710 milliliters) of milk per day.


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


How Can Iron Deficiency Be Prevented?

When an individual does not take the required amount of iron along with vitamin C through food, an iron deficiency may develop. Over time, iron levels in the body fall down, leading to iron deficiency anemia. It can be prevented by consuming foods high in iron, such as green leafy vegetables, lean meat, etc. It is also crucial to take foods high in vitamin C to improve iron absorption by the body.


What Can Prevent Iron Deficiency in a Toddler?

The ways to prevent iron deficiency in toddlers are as follows:
- First, feed the kids foods such as beans, spinach, lean meat, green peas, etc., that are high in iron.
- Include foods containing vitamin C, like strawberries, lime, and others, in the diet to improve iron absorption.
- Do not overfeed cow’s milk (not more than three glasses of milk).
- Deworming is another important method to be followed.


How to Improve a Child’s Iron Levels Naturally and Quickly?

It is essential to maintain adequate iron levels in children by:
- Adding beans, green leafy veggies, organ meats, tofu, etc., to the diet daily.
- Include fruits and vegetables, such as oranges, strawberries, and tomatoes, on children’s plates to aid in iron absorption.
- Limit excess consumption of cow’s milk.


How Is Iron Deficiency in Kids Caused?

Iron deficiency in kids may happen due to the following factors:
- Consumption of a diet that is low in iron.
- Sudden loss of blood.
- Body’s inability to absorb iron.
- In addition, premature babies are at high risk of iron deficiency.


What Is the Main Function of Iron?

The three main roles of iron include:
- Oxygen in the lungs is carried to all the other tissues of the body with the help of iron.
- Aid in the synthesis of DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid).
- Transport of electrons.


Which Foods Are Rich in Iron and Can Be Given to Children?

Foods that are rich in iron and can be given to children are:
- Green leafy veggies.
- Pumpkin seeds.
- Dried fruits.
- Lean meat.
- Green beans and peas.


How to Treat and Prevent Iron Deficiency Anemia?

In case of iron deficiency, the doctor may suggest iron and vitamin C supplements for several months to improve the iron levels in the body. In addition, if the cause of iron deficiency is due to systemic disorder, it should be treated accordingly. On the other hand, intravenous iron may be suggested in severe cases.


What Are the Consequences of Low Iron in a Child?

When iron levels fall down in a child, it may cause:
- Low energy.
- Weakness.
- Tiredness.
- Skin appears pale.
- Changes in behavior.
- Prone to infections.


Why Do Kids Require Iron?

Iron is crucial for oxygen transport in the body and in the production of hemoglobin. Therefore lack of iron may lead to improper development of red blood cells and greatly affect the child’s development. Therefore, kids of 1 to 3 years may require 7 mg of iron; 4 to 10 years need 10 mg, and so on.


What Are the Effects of Iron Deficiency on Children?

The effects of iron deficiency in children are:
- Paleness.
- Feeling tired or lethargic.
- Poor appetite.
- Brittle nails.
- Low energy.


Does Iron Have Any Effect on the Brain?

Low levels of iron or its deficiency may affect the brain’s development badly. Especially in infants below 2 years of age, iron deficiency leads to poor brain development. Therefore several child skills, such as cognition, motor skills, etc., are significantly affected in their later life. Hence, diagnosing such deficiencies as early as possible is vital to prevent their harmful effects.


Does Iron Help With Development?

Yes, like all other essential nutrients, iron is also important for growth and development. It aids in oxygen transport, electron transport, blood production, etc., without which red blood cells get impaired and lead to various complications. Especially for brain development and its functioning, adequate levels of iron in the body are required.

Last reviewed at:
12 Jan 2023  -  5 min read




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