OUR INSTITUTES: CANCER | HEART | NEUROSCIENCE | ORTHOPAEDICS
 
 

Pediatric Health Library :: Pediatric Health Library Topics
Share |
Printer Friendly
BLOOD DISORDERS :: Blood Disorders

Iron Deficiency Anemia

What is iron deficiency anemia?

The most common cause of anemia is iron deficiency. Iron is needed to form hemoglobin. Iron is mostly stored in the body in the hemoglobin. About 30 percent of iron is also stored as ferritin and hemosiderin in the bone marrow, spleen, and liver.

What causes iron deficiency anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia can be caused by:

  • diets low in iron
    Iron is obtained from foods in our diet, however, only 1 mg of iron is absorbed for every 10 to 20 mg of iron ingested. A child unable to have a balanced iron-rich diet may suffer some degree of iron deficiency anemia.
  • body changes
    An increased iron requirement and increased red blood cell production is required when the body is going through changes such as growth spurts in children and adolescents.
  • gastrointestinal tract abnormalities
    Malabsorption of iron is common after some forms of gastrointestinal surgeries. Most of the iron taken in by dietary route is absorbed in the upper small intestine. Any abnormalities in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract could alter iron absorption and result in iron deficiency anemia.
  • blood loss
    Loss of blood can cause a decrease of iron and result in iron deficiency anemia. Sources of blood loss may include GI bleeding, menstrual bleeding, or injury.

What are the symptoms of iron deficiency anemia?

The following are the most common symptoms of iron deficiency anemia. However, each child may experience symptoms differently. Symptoms may include:

  • abnormal paleness or lack of color of the skin
  • irritability
  • lack of energy or tiring easily (fatigue)
  • increased heart rate (tachycardia)
  • sore or swollen tongue
  • enlarged spleen
  • a desire to eat peculiar substances such as dirt or ice (also called pica)

How is iron deficiency anemia diagnosed?

Iron deficiencyanemia may be suspected from general findings on a complete medical history and physical examination of your child, such as complaints of tiring easily, pale skin and lips, or a fast heartbeat (tachycardia). Iron deficiency anemia is usually discovered during a medical examination through a blood test that measures the amount of hemoglobin, or number of red blood cells, present and the amount of iron in the blood. In addition to a complete medical history and physical examination of your child, diagnostic procedures for iron deficiency anemia may include the following:

  • additional blood tests
  • bone marrow aspiration and/or biopsy - a procedure that involves taking a small amount of bone marrow fluid (aspiration) and/or solid bone marrow tissue (called a core biopsy), usually from the hip bones, to be examined for the number, size, and maturity of blood cells and/or abnormal cells.

Treatment for iron deficiency anemia:

Specific treatment for iron deficiency anemia will be determined by your child's physician based on:

  • your child's age, overall health, and medical history
  • extent of the anemia
  • cause of the anemia
  • your child's tolerance for specific medications, procedures, or therapies
  • expectations for the course of the anemia
  • your opinion or preference

Treatment may include:

  • iron-rich diet
    Eating a diet with iron-rich foods can help treat iron deficiency anemia. Good sources of iron include the following:
    • meats - beef, pork, lamb, liver, and other organ meats
    • poultry - chicken, duck, turkey, liver (especially dark meat)
    • fish - shellfish, including clams, mussels, and oysters, sardines, anchovies
    • leafy greens of the cabbage family, such as broccoli, kale, turnip greens, and collards
    • legumes, such as lima beans and green peas; dry beans and peas, such as pinto beans, black-eyed peas, and canned baked beans
    • yeast-leavened whole-wheat bread and rolls
    • iron-enriched white bread, pasta, rice, and cereals
  • iron supplements
    Iron supplements can be taken over several months to increase iron levels in the blood. Iron supplements can cause irritation of the stomach and discoloration of bowel movements. They should be taken on an empty stomach or with orange juice to increase absorption.

    The following is a list of foods that are a good source of iron. Always consult your child's physician regarding the recommended daily iron requirements for your child.

Iron-Rich Foods Quantity Approximate Iron
Content (milligrams)
Oysters
3 ounces 13.2
Beef liver
3 ounces 7.5
Prune juice
1/2 cup 5.2
Clams
2 ounces 4.2
Walnuts
1/2 cup 3.75
Ground beef
3 ounces 3.0
Chickpeas
1/2 cup 3.0
Bran flakes
1/2 cup 2.8
Pork roast
3 ounces 2.7
Cashew nuts
1/2 cup 2.65
Shrimp
3 ounces 2.6
Raisins
1/2 cup 2.55
Sardines
3 ounces 2.5
Spinach
1/2 cup 2.4
Lima beans
1/2 cup 2.3
Kidney beans
1/2 cup 2.2
Turkey, dark meat
3 ounces 2.0
Prunes
1/2 cup 1.9
Roast beef
3 ounces 1.8
Green peas
1/2 cup 1.5
Peanuts
1/2 cup 1.5
Potato
1 1.1
Sweet potato
1/2 cup 1.0
Green beans
1/2 cup 1.0
Egg
1 1.0

Click here to view the
Online Resources of Hematology & Blood Disorders

GR_ATP

It is important to remember the health information found on this website is for reference only not intended to replace the advice and guidance of your healthcare provider. Always seek the advice of your physician with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. If you think you may have a medical emergency, call your physician or 911 immediately.
PEDIATRIC HEALTH LIBRARY
BLOOD DISORDERS HOME
TOPIC INDEX
CONDITIONS
RESOURCES
GLOSSARY
CENTERS:
HYUNDAI CANCER INSTITUTE
RELATED SERVICES:
SPECIALTY CENTER, NEWPORT BEACH
RELATED SPECIALTIES:
HEMATOLOGY
RELATED LINKS:
FIND SPECIALISTS
ARTICLES
STORIES
NEWS
VIDEO
spacer

Facebook  Twitter  Pinterest  Instagram  Foursquare  LinkedIn  YouTube  RSS  CHOC Blog

US News     CAPE Award   Magnet      Beacon Award      Most Trusted Brand     Leapfrog

chocChildren's Hospital of Orange County | UCI University of California, Irvine

Children's Hospital of Orange County is affiliated with UC Irvine Healthcare and UC Irvine School of Medicine

CHOC Children's - 1201 W La Veta Ave, Orange, CA. Phone: 714-997-3000. .