The very young may be deficient
Young children are at great risk for iron deficiency because of rapid growth and increased iron requirements, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.Iron deficiency can occur because of a lack of iron in the diet. Anemia is the result of a relatively severe deficiency.
Although an inadequate dietary intake of several nutrients may reduce the production of red blood cells and hemoglobin, the most common cause of anemia throughout the world is iron deficiency.
Poverty, abuse and living in a home with poor household conditions also place children at risk for iron-deficiency anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia is seen most commonly in children aged 6 months to 3 years old. Those at highest risk are low birth-weight infants after 2 months of age, breast-fed term infants who receive no iron-fortified foods or supplemental iron after 4 months of age, and formula-fed term infants who are not consuming iron-fortified formula.
As babies move to solid foods, foods with high amounts of iron should be selected. These include most meats, egg yolks and certain vegetables, such as spinach.
Iron-deficiency anemia significantly impairs mental and psychomotor development in infants and children. Although iron deficiency can be reversed with treatment, the reversibility of the mental and psychomotor impairment is not yet clearly understood. Thus, prevention and treatment need to be emphasized.
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