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  • Writer's pictureDr Ali A Nejat

Iron deficiency in Children

If your child is suffering from one of iron deficiency symptoms, it is better to check for iron level:

Delayed growth or development

Impaired cognitive function;

Decreased memory,

Impaired learning and concentration

Behavioural disturbances


PICA – eating of non-nutritive substances such as paper, wood and soil 1

At school it can cause lower school performances and at home it can cause lots of difficulties in parenting. If neglected it can have detrimental effects on well-being of our children.

If it gets severe it can cause iron deficiency anaemia ( decreased red cells in blood).

What are the risk factors of iron deficiency ?


Iron deficiency during pregnancy

Prematurity and/or low birth-weight

Multiple pregnancy of mother

Exclusive breast-feeding after 6 months 

Late or insufficient introduction of iron rich solids

Excess cow's milk consumption

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander 


Vegetarian or vegan diet

Gastrointestinal disorders e.g. Meckel’s diverticulum, coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, gastric or intestinal surgery or infection Other chronic blood loss


Vegetarian or vegan diet

Heavy menstrual bleeding

Gastrointestinal disorders e.g. coeliac disease, inflammatory bowel disease, gastric or intestinal surgery or infection

Other chronic blood loss 

Extreme athletes

Iron deficiency investigations:

Your doctor can order ferritin level to check on iron reserve and FBE to check on red cells.

In iron deficiency anaemia rec cells get smaller and get less haemoglobin.

Iron deficiency treatment:

Preventive dose for iron deficiency is 1-2 mg/kg/day

Treatment of iron deficiency needs 3-6 mg/kg/day 2

In severe anaemia higher doses can be prescribed. Iron supplement should be continued for 3 month after correction of anaemia to make sure good iron reserve maintained.

Iron supplement can cause constipation or black stool. If constipation happens please visit your doctor to discuss.

In older children high fiber diet can help but for younger ones some times it is necessary to use proper laxatives. 3

For iron rich foods please see below. Please note that in case of iron deficiency, iron supplement needed.

Best sources of iron:

" Animal foods (haem iron) include:

Lean red meats such as beef, lamb and veal.

Chicken, pork (including ham), fish, tuna, salmon and shellfish.

Offal meats such as liver and kidney.Eggs

Plant foods (non-haem iron) include:

Iron-fortified breakfast cereals (check the label to see if iron is added). e.g. WeetBix™,

Farex™, Cerelac™

Wholemeal/wholegrain breads, also some white bread brands have iron

added – check the labels

Legumes e.g. lentils, baked beans, soybeans, kidney beans, chickpeas,


Leafy green vegetables e.g. spinach, parsley, broccoli,Dried fruit e.g. apricots,

sultanas,Peanut butter and nuts (whole nuts are not recommended for children under five),

Milo® or Ovaltine®

for older children Tahini and hommus

Seeds, e.g. sesame seeds" 4

Please share this post to increase awareness of iron deficiency in children.

To book appointment with our doctors in QLD Medical Doctors in Arana hills please see

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