Risk of Iron Deficiency in Children

Content provided by the Faculty of the Harvard Medical School

Iron is used by the body to make red blood cells, which carry oxygen from the lungs to all the other cells in the body. Iron deficiency means that the body does not have enough of this important mineral to make red blood cells, which can result in iron deficiency anemia.

Iron deficiency can happen when a person does not eat enough iron-foods and is the most common nutritional problem in the world. It can happen at any age, but is particularly common among toddlers and adolescent females. Iron deficiency can cause serious health problems, including developmental delays and behavior problems, poor growth, and an increased risk of infections.

Depending on their age and other risk factors, children are tested from time to time for iron deficiency. Answering the questions below will help you understand why your child may be at increased risk for iron deficiency and what your doctor may recommend.

Keep in mind that your doctor may recommend earlier and more frequent testing if your child has a medical condition that increases the risk for iron deficiency.

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Medical Reviewer: Faculty of Harvard Medical School Last Annual Review Date: 2006-06-18T00:00:00-06:00