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Iron deficiency

Anemia describes a condition where the number of red blood cells is below normal.  The function of red blood cells is to carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body.  Iron deficiency anemia is usually caused by a child not getting enough iron in his/her diet or by drinking low iron formula.  Children with anemia may be tired, restless, irritable, and pale; they may also have developmental delay and have difficulty paying attention.

It is important to maintain your child on a diet rich in iron.  Examples of iron rich foods include:

  • Meats--liver, beef, lamb, pork, chicken
  • Fish, particularly sardines, clams, oysters
  • Eggs
  • Vegetables--lima beans, peas, kale, swiss chard, spinach, beet greens, turnip greens, tomato juice
  • Fruit--prunes, dates, watermelon, raisins, dried peaches and apricots
  • Breads and Cereals--enriched Farina, egg noodles, enriched waffles
  • Legumes--black-eyed peas, chick peas, dried lima beans, cowpeas, navy beans, chestnuts, lentils

Drinking too much milk may cause anemia.  We recommend no more than 24 ounces (3 glasses) a day for young children.

If your child is prescribed an iron supplement, give the medicine while your child has a full stomach to prevent stomach upset.  Mix the medicine with juice or another food containing vitamin C.  Avoid giving milk with iron.  The iron can change the color of stool to green or black; this is not a cause for concern if the iron is given as prescribed.

Keep the medicine out of reach since iron poisoning is very serious.


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