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Iron Deficiency in Children

Why is iron important for children?

Iron helps move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and helps muscles store and use oxygen. If your child's diet lacks iron, he or she might develop a condition called iron deficiency.

Iron deficiency in children is a common problem. It can occur at many levels, from a mild deficiency all the way to iron deficiency anemia — a condition in which blood doesn't have enough healthy red blood cells. Untreated iron deficiency can affect a child's growth and development.

How much iron do children need?

Babies are born with iron stored in their bodies, but a steady amount of additional iron is needed to fuel a child's rapid growth and development. Here's a guide to iron needs at different ages:

Age group

Recommended amount of iron a day

7 - 12 months

11 mg

1 - 3 years

7 mg

4 - 8 years

10 mg

9 - 13 years

8 mg

14 - 18 years, girls

15 mg

14 - 18 years, boys

11 mg

What are the signs and symptoms of iron deficiency in children?

Too little iron can impair your child's ability to function well. However, most signs and symptoms of iron deficiency in children don't appear until iron deficiency anemia occurs. If your child has risk factors for iron deficiency, talk to his or her doctor.

Signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anemia might include:

How can iron deficiency in children be prevented?

If you're feeding your baby iron-fortified formula, he or she is likely getting the recommended amount of iron. If you're breast-feeding your baby, talk with your baby's doctor about iron supplementation. An iron supplement may be iron drops given at a specific dose or iron that's included in a vitamin supplement.

Here are some general recommendations:

Other steps you can take to prevent iron deficiency include:


Always feel free to ask your pediatrician questions or express concerns you have. We are here to help!

Resources: Mayo Clinic-Online,  Healthdirect

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