Clinical Reference Systems: Pediatric Advisor 10.0
Iron Deficiency Anemia
DESCRIPTION (Diagnosis must be confirmed by a physician.)
Anemia means that the number of red blood cells in your
child's body is below normal. The red blood cells carry
oxygen in the bloodstream, and iron is needed for your
child's body to produce red blood cells. Iron deficiency
anemia is caused by a child obtaining too little iron from
his or her diet.
- Iron medicines
Your child may need iron medicine prescribed by your
This medicine contains iron and will need to be taken
for 2 to 3 months to get your child's red blood cells
back to a normal level. It can occasionally cause an
upset stomach and should be taken with food to prevent
this. Mix the iron medicine with a juice containing
Vitamin C (orange juice, for example). This will
improve iron absorption and prevent staining of the
teeth. (NOTE: If the teeth become stained, the stain
can be brushed off with baking soda.) The iron may
change the color of bowel movements to greenish black,
but this is harmless. Too much iron can be dangerous
and can cause serious poisoning. Treat iron like any
medicine: Keep it out of your child's reach.
- Iron-Rich Diet
If your child's diet is well balanced, he or she won't
get anemia again. The following foods contain iron:
- Meats, fish, and poultry have the most iron.
- Raisins, dried fruits, sweet potatoes, lima beans,
kidney beans, chili beans, pinto beans, green peas,
peanut butter, enriched cereals, and breads are other
iron-rich foods. Spinach and egg yolks also contain
iron, but it is in a form that is not readily
available to the body.
Your child should not drink more than 24 ounces of milk
a day (about 3 glasses) so that he or she has an
adequate appetite for iron-containing foods. Milk
doesn't contain any iron.
- Follow-up visits
Your physician needs to see your child in 1 week and
again in 2 months to be sure the level of red blood
cells in the blood has returned to normal.
CALL YOUR CHILD'S PHYSICIAN DURING OFFICE HOURS IF:
- Your child refuses the iron medicine.
- You have other concerns or questions.
Written by B.D. Schmitt, M.D., author of "Your Child's Health," Bantam Books.
Copyright 1999 Clinical Reference Systems