Iron deficiency is one of the most common mineral deficiencies among children just like among adults. It is estimated that almost 25% of children suffer from iron deficiency . Why is iron important?
Children need iron for psychomotor development, cognitive functioning and growth   and it is found that iron deficiency anemia increases the risk of respiratory infections .
Iron deficiency develops mainly during the second year of life. First child´s iron stores are depleted (low ferritin) and when iron stores have decreased, iron deficiency anemia may develop (low ferritin, hemoglobin, hematocrit and red blood cell indices)  .
Iron deficiency is common among children under 3 years and main causes of iron deficiency are increased need for iron, small amount of iron from food and consumption of cow milk products, especially drinking cow milk with food. Nutrition therapist and Estonian Nutrition Therapy Association´s member of board Triin Muiste reminds that milk is food, not a drink. A lot of parents give their children cow milk as a drink with food – the most important drink is water and parents should start practicing giving water to their children as early as possible. Other reasons for iron deficiency are e.g. absorption disorders.
In 2007 research in Estonia, it was found that 14% of children suffered from iron deficiency and 9% from iron deficiency anemia among 9-12 months old. One of the risk factors was low birth weight – less than 3 kg .
DOES YOUR CHILD SUFFER FROM IRON DEFICIENCY?
There are many different symptoms:
- tiredness, fatique, decrease in physical activity load, shortness of breath
- irritability, attention disorders
- headache, ringing in the ears
- palpitations, onset or progression of heart failure
- paleness, fragilile nails and hair, crevices in the corners of the mouth, painful tongue, loss of appetite, odd apptetite (need to eat chalk, cement, ice) .
In case of babies and toddlers, iron deficiency may also cause sleep disorders.
HOW IS IRON DEFICIENCY DIAGNOSED?
Iron deficiency and anemia are diagnosed by blood sample. In case of iron deficiency results are the following:
- blood´s ferritin is low (body´s iron stores)
- increased concentration of transferrin soluble receptors
In case of iron deficiency anemia results are the following:
- low hemoglobin and hematocrit levels
- red blood cells may be normal or a bit lower
- red blood cell indices (MCV, MCH, MCHC) are usually lower
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES OF IRON DEFICIENCY?
When your child is suffering from iron deficiency, it is important to find out the cause. Some causes of iron deficiency are the following:
- absorption disorders and then additional tests might be needed 
- iron deficiency is often caused by increased iron need and too little iron intake from food because (for babies and toddles, amount of food eaten is often rather small)
WHAT TO DO?
In case of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia, usually prescription drugs or food supplements are needed that are prescribed by your doctor (in case of food supplements, first consult with your doctor). It is also important to find the cause. Hemoglobin normalizes usually within 4‒6 weeks. To fill your child´s body´s iron stores, treatment should be continued for several months up to half a year, because iron stores increase slowly.
All parents want their children the best and if possible, avoid different additives used in normal prescription drugs and food supplements. It is also easier to give your child iron in syrup form, because very small children cannot manage to swallow a pill. Babies´ intestine is still developing and iron supplements often cause several side effects, e.g. constipation, diarrhea, vomiting, stomach pain and a lot of toddlers refuse to take iron due to its characteristic metal taste.
IRON SUPPLEMENTS FOR CHILDREN
- first iron syrup with iron bisglycinate
- co-operation with Estonian universities, doctors and chemists
- highly bioavailable and well absorbed iron bisglycinate
- it has been found that iron bisglycinate is absorbed two times more effectively compared to iron sulphate, often used in breast milk substitutes  
- it has also been found that compared to iron-polymaltose complex, iron bisglycinate fills more effectively body´s iron stores 
- stomach friendly and usually does not cause side effects
- from 6 months old for the whole family
- 2 teaspoons, i.e. 10 ml = 25 mg of iron
- optimized vitamin C content from organic orange
- content of vitamins and minerals is always checked
- Raud 30 mg pill is also suitable from 6 months old when crushed
- iron syrup is not a source for vitamin K (nettle contains natural vitamin K1)
 Tartu University Hospital – Iron deficiency anemia
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