When you hear the word iron, you might imagine a skyscraper supported by metal and iron beams to make it sturdy. Not only buildings, humans also need iron (iron) to stay strong.
Iron helps red blood cells carry oxygen to the body and plays an important role in maintaining brain and muscle function. Lack of iron in the blood can cause iron deficiency anemia, a condition of malnutrition that is common in children.
Regarding iron deficiency anemia
Every piece of red blood cell in the body contains iron in its hemoglobin. Hemoglobin is a protein that carries oxygen from the lungs to all body tissues. This protein is used iron as a binding of oxygen in the blood, so oxygen can be flowed normally.
People who are iron deficient usually do not get enough iron intake in their daily diet. As a result, the body cannot make hemoglobin, so the number of red blood cells produced will decrease. This condition is called anemia. When someone is affected by anemia, the body's cells and tissues will lack of oxygen intake which affects the body's performance.
Iron plays an important role in muscle function, producing energy, and brain development. As a result, children with iron deficiency may face learning difficulties and behavioral problems.
Causes of anemia in children
In developed countries, the fulfillment of balanced iron for infants does not seem difficult. In general, babies who are breastfed tend to get enough iron from the mother until they get to know other foods and drinks. In addition, babies who are fed formula milk which is rich in iron also usually get enough iron intake.
The problem of iron deficiency anemia can also be experienced by toddlers who drink too much cow's milk (more than 24 ounces a day) and consume less iron-rich foods, such as red meat and green leafy vegetables. Basically, cow's milk is not a good source of iron. In fact, cow's milk prevents the body from absorbing iron, which triggers anemia.
This problem can also occur in children who are picky with food. Because they tend to be picky about food, children may not get enough iron intake. Sometimes this condition is also supported by parents who have difficulty finding healthy foods that are high in iron. Children or teenagers who are vegetarians are also potentially iron deficient, because the iron contained in meat is more easily absorbed than the iron in vegetables.
Teenage boys can also experience iron deficiency during puberty. However, this condition is more experienced by adolescent girls because their bodies cannot store more iron and lose blood during menstruation. Young athletes who often exercise also tend to lose more iron so they develop iron deficiency anemia.
Symptoms of anemia in children
Iron deficiency anemia occurs gradually. First, the amount of iron in the body decreases and the child begins to have iron deficiency which affects muscle and brain function. Red blood cells do not change much at this stage because the body uses most of the iron to make hemoglobin. But over time, the body begins to make fewer red blood cells, triggering anemia. At that stage, symptoms of anemia that may be experienced, include:
- The body is tired and weak
- Pale skin, especially around the hands, nails and eyelids
- Rapid heartbeat or heart murmurs
- Low appetite
- Dizzy head or dizzy
In rare cases, a child with iron deficiency anemia will experience pica , an eating disorder characterized by the desire to consume (non-food) items, such as paint flakes, chalk, or dust and dirt.
Diagnose anemia in children
Iron deficiency anemia is generally diagnosed at the time of examination. Babies must undergo blood tests for anemia in their first year. Doctors sometimes test early for certain children, such as premature babies who have lower amounts of iron at birth than normal babies.
Doctors can suspect the possibility of iron deficiency in children who tend to appear weak. The doctor will ask food intake and growth of the child to do a blood test to check the level of hemoglobin or low iron as a trigger for anemia. In addition, the doctor may do a stool test because iron deficiency anemia is sometimes caused by a gradual loss of blood through the intestinal tract.
Treatment of anemia in children
Typically, children with iron deficiency anemia need daily iron supplements to restore normal iron levels. Giving an iron multivitamin and changing children's diet can help, but usually these steps are not enough. Consult your doctor before providing iron supplements for your child, because too much iron can actually cause health problems.
Iron must be consumed on an empty stomach or just a little food. Avoid giving iron together with milk or caffeinated drinks. Because the two types of drinks interfere with optimal absorption of iron. Instead, you can give him orange juice and other foods high in vitamin C to help iron absorb better.
Within one or two days after getting iron, children should feel better and appetite returns to normal. During the next month, blood will make more red blood cells so that hemoglobin levels also go up. Usually, iron supplements take 3-6 months to correct the deficiency. However, there are some children who need a longer time to recover iron levels.
If the treatment is unsuccessful, it is a sign that the child's body is not optimally absorbing iron or the dosage is wrong. In this case, your doctor may do a blood test to see how your iron levels are after the last treatment. Children with severe cases of iron deficiency anemia may need a blood transfusion or treatment from a specialist.
Prevention of anemia in children
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Reviewed date: January 20, 2017 | Last Edited: January 20, 2017
Iron Deficiency Anemia. http://kidshealth.org/parent/medical/heart/ida.html#. Accessed 08/08/2015.