Health Alert: Are Your Kids Getting Enough Iron?
By Peg Rosen
Health alert: Are your kids getting enough iron? Iron deficiency in the United States isn’t the scourge it was half a century ago. But even with improved nutrition and better monitoring, it remains the single most common nutritional deficiency. Without enough iron, red blood cells can’t efficiently deliver oxygen to the body, according to Lauren Graf, a pediatric nutritionist at Montefiore Medical Center in New York City.
Kids are at greatest risk during infancy and adolescence, when their diet may not meet the increased iron demands of their rapidly growing bodies. Overweight children are also at higher risk, studies show, possibly because they tend to snack more frequently and eat greater amounts of junk food.
Untreated, iron deficiency can eventually lead to anemia, which can seriously delay a child’s growth and neurological development.
Luckily, iron deficiency is easy to detect and treat. “A blood test at the doctor’s office can tell. And in many cases, getting iron levels up can be as simple as changing what your child is eating,” says Graf.
Here, some basic ways to help your child avoid iron deficiency from the start:
- Know the signs: Kids with iron deficiency may be sluggish, look tired and pale, or get sick often.