Iron deficiency: what is it and what is the threat?

Everyone has probably heard of such an important trace element for the body as iron. But what happens when there is not enough iron? One of the conditions of this kind is called iron deficiency. At the same time, first of all, it is the supply of this microelement in the body that decreases. Some people get it fixed with this remedy:

You can measure your iron stores using a special protein called ferritin. Information about the normal level of ferritin for a child’s body differs in different sources. The spread of numbers ranges from 12 to 24 mgq / l for children under 5 years old; and from 15 to 30 mgq / L for children over 5 years old (1).

Iron deficiency anemia is the second major iron deficiency condition. In this case, there is a decrease in the concentration of hemoglobin in the blood. It is important to know that hemoglobin levels depend on age and gender. The World Health Organization (WHO) suggests targeting the following minimum values ​​(2):

children from 6 months to 5 years old – 110 g / l;
children from 5 to 12 years old – 115 g / l;
children from 12 to 15 years old and girls over 15 years old – 120 g / l;
boys over 15 years old – 130 g / l;
Anemia is not only due to a lack of iron in the body. The reasons for the decrease in hemoglobin can be a lack of vitamin B12 or folic acid, some chronic inflammatory diseases, and a number of other conditions. But iron deficiency anemia occurs most often.

A decrease in iron in the body does not occur in everyone. There are factors in which the risk of developing iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia increases several times.

These include:

iron deficiency in the mother during pregnancy, especially in the third trimester;
premature birth;
blood loss in a child in the perinatal period;
insufficient intake of iron from food;
excessive consumption of whole cow or goat milk;
gastrointestinal diseases (proctocolitis, celiac disease, chronic intestinal infections, etc.).
What are the symptoms of iron deficiency? Most often they are not there, and deviations can be identified only by the results of analyzes. But sometimes there are manifestations. Children with iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia may have pale skin, lethargy, irritability, poor appetite, sleep disturbances, dry skin, brittle hair, desire to eat inedible (clay, chalk, paper, etc.). With a strong decrease in hemoglobin, the signs become more pronounced. There is a rapid heartbeat, tinnitus, headache, shortness of breath on exertion.

Both iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia need treatment. It is important to choose the right dose of iron supplement and determine the timing of the medication.

It is imperative to make changes to the patient’s diet. Get tested regularly during treatment. For children, iron is most often used in the form of a solution or syrup. These dosage forms can lead to staining of the tooth enamel. Therefore, it is recommended to brush your teeth or rinse your mouth with water after taking the drug. In young children, fingertips may be stained. The reason is that the baby pulls his hands into his mouth after taking the medicine. But these effects disappear after the end of treatment.

It is best to take the medicine on an empty stomach. Can be taken with water or orange juice. It is not recommended to use iron supplements together with milk and other foods containing calcium (kefir, cheese, cottage cheese, etc.). In this case, the absorption of iron in the intestine decreases.

Treating iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia is a lengthy process. It is important to first increase your hemoglobin levels and then build up your body’s iron stores. Therefore, the treatment can take several months (usually at least three).

The iron supplement must be prescribed by a doctor, and the doctor must also cancel the drug. Do not self-medicate as it can be dangerous to your health and the health of your baby.