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 [1]. Why is iron important?

Iron deficiency develops mainly during the second year of life. First child´s iron stores are depleted (low ferritin) and when iron stores are almost depleted, iron deficiency anemia develops (low ferritin and hemoglobin) [2] [3].

Iron deficiency is common among children under 3 years and main causes of iron deficiency are increased iron need, small amount of iron from food and big consumption of cow milk products, especially consuming cow milk together 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 together 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 absorption disorders and increased need for iron among children during growth phases.

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) [1].

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 [1]
  • 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 [8] [9]
  • it has also been found that compared to iron-polymaltose complex, iron bisglycinate fills more effectively body´s iron stores [10]
  • 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)

Sources:

[1] Tartu University Hospital – Iron deficiency anemia
[2] Aggett PJ, Barclay S, Whitley JE. Iron for the suckling. Iron nutrition in childhood. Acta Paediatr Scand 1989;78:96-102. 5.
[3] Male C, Persson LA, Freeman V, Guerra A, van’t Hof MA, Haschke F. Prevalence of iron deficiency in 12-mo-old infants from 11 European areas and influence of dietary factors on iron status (Euro-Growth Study). Acta Paediatr 2001;90:492- 8
[4] Vendt N, et al. Prevalence and causes of iron deficiency anaemia in infants aged 9 to 12 months in Estonia. Medicina (Kaunas) 2007;43:947–52
[5] Ekiz C, Agaoglu L, Karakas Z, Gurel N, Yalcin I. The effect of iron deficiency anaemia on the function of the immune system. Forum Nutr 2003;56:243-5.
[6] Wick M, Pinggera W, Lehmann P. Clinical aspects and laboratory iron metabolism, anemias: novel concepts in the anemias of malignancies and renal and rheumatoid diseases. 5th ed.
[7] Wien: Springer-Verlag; 2003. p. 7-16. 7. Lozoff B, Jimene E, Wolf A. Long-term developmental outcome of infants with iron deficiency. N Engl J Med 1991; 325:687-94
[8] Milman N, et al. Ferrous bisglycinate 25 mg iron is as effective as ferrous sulfate 50 mg iron in the prophylaxis of iron deficiency and anemia during pregnancy in a randomized trial. J Perinat Med. 2014 Mar;42(2):197-206. doi: 10.1515/jpm-2013-0153.
[9] Rossana B. et al. Efficacy of Supplementation with Iron Sulfate Compared to Iron Bisglycinate Chelate in Preterm Infants. Current Pediatric Reviews, 2018, 14, 00-00.
[10] J.Name et al. Iron Bisglycinate Chelate and Polymaltose Iron for the Treatment of Iron Deficiency Anemia: A Pilot Randomized Trial. Curr Pediatr Rev. 2018 Nov; 14(4): 261–268.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *