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Prevention Of Iron Deficiency Anaemia In Children
Posted on 8th August 2019
Anaemia has evolved into a major global health concern. Children, in particular, are at risk –with approximately 300 million children suffering from anaemia across the world.1 Deficiency of iron has been identified as one of the leading causes of anemia.1 In India, approximately 58.6% children between 6 – 59 months of age are anaemic.2
Did you know iron deposits in infants with an average birth weight, get depleted by 5–6 months of age? A normal diet often does not match the high iron needs of growing infants due to their inadequate starting iron levels. Thus, premature infants, infants with low birth weight and children born to anaemic mothers need supplementation of iron.3Similarly, children of 2 – 5 years of age have a higher requirement of iron as they are in rapid growth and development phase and are thus more prone to iron deficiency anaemia.1, 4
Ideally, the need for iron should be met with a healthy iron-rich diet. But due to modern processing, preserving, and cooking methods, the nutrient value of our food has reduced.5 This lack of iron in the diet is further coupled with its reduced absorption due to various factors, leading to iron deficiency. In children it gets further critical if they are fussy eaters. This makes iron supplementation a viable choice for restoring the body’s iron storage banks.
Some preventive measures that can help prevent iron deficiency anaemia in children are stated below;
- Using iron cookware.6
- Absolute breastfeeding until 6 months of age.7
- Avoid feeding cow’s milk until one year of age, as cow’s milk reduces the absorption of iron.8
- Excessive intake of milk can reduce iron stores in children, from 1 - 5 years of age, as calcium inhibits the absorption of iron.9
- Encouraging consumption of foods containing vitamin C, as it helps in the absorption of iron.10
Even though the above options might reduce the risk of iron deficiency in children, they are not the most effective solution to the deficiency of iron in their body.
Using iron supplements is not only the most viable alternative but also a recommended option for children.11
Children have higher demands for iron, and are often unable to meet these iron needs from the food they eat. The deficiency of iron can cause some significant health concerns, especially in children. Considering the above points, it is imperative for parents to be aware of iron deficiency, its implications, and its treatment options.
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- Daily iron supplementation in children 24-59 months of age. (2019, February 11). Retrieved from https://www.who.int/elena/titles/iron-children-24to59/en/
- Subramaniam G, Girish M. Iron deficiency anemia in children. The Indian Journal of Pediatrics. 2015 Jun 1;82(6):558-64.
- Ozdemir N. Iron deficiency anemia from diagnosis to treatment in children. Turk Pediatri Ars. 2015 Mar 1;50(1):11-9.
- Dandago, Munir Abba. (2009). Changes in nutrients during storage and processing of Foods - A review. 3. 24-27.
- Adish AA, Esrey SA, Gyorkos TW, Jean-Baptiste J, Rojhani A. Effect of consumption of food cooked in iron pots on iron status and growth of young children: a randomised trial. The Lancet. 1999 Feb 27;353(9154):712-6.
- Ziegler EE, Nelson SE, Jeter JM. Iron supplementation of breastfed infants from an early age. The American journal of clinical nutrition. 2008 Dec 10;89(2):525-32.
- Ziegler EE. Consumption of cow's milk as a cause of iron deficiency in infants and toddlers. Nutrition reviews. 2011 Nov 1;69(suppl_1):S37-42.
- Lönnerdal B. Calcium and iron absorption—Mechanisms and public health relevance. International Journal for Vitamin and Nutrition Research. 2010 Oct 1;80(4):293.
- Hallberg L, Brune M, Rossander L. The role of vitamin C in iron absorption. International journal for vitamin and nutrition research. Supplement= Internationale Zeitschrift fur Vitamin-und Ernahrungsforschung. Supplement. 1989;30:103-8.
- Iannotti LL, Tielsch JM, Black MM, Black RE. Iron supplementation in early childhood: health benefits and risks.