As a parent, you can’t help but be tickled pink when your child is a good sleeper. Getting enough sleep is important for them (and you!), but if your child seems to be sleeping an awful lot, then there might be a problem. There’s a difference between sleeping through the night and having chronic fatigue, which is a tell-tale sign of iron deficiency.
Children Have a Higher Risk of Iron Deficiency
You might think that iron deficiency only happens in adulthood, but the reality is that children have a higher risk of developing iron deficiency or anemia, and unfortunately, this is underdiagnosed.
Your child may be at risk if one or more of the following is present:
- Born prematurely or with low birth weight
- Aged 9 months to 3 years
- Age 10 through puberty
- Celiac disease
- Exposed to prolonged breastfeeding
- Introduced to whole milk before 12 months
- Drinking 600 mL or more of milk each day
Knowing the Signs and Symptoms
Along with chronic fatigue, there are other common symptoms of iron deficiency that you can look for in children. Our Symptom Checker for Children can help you check for other symptoms of iron deficiency in your child, such as:
- Tires quickly or has low exercise tolerance
- Irritable or experiences emotional mood swings
- Decreased appetite
- Pica (cravings to eat non-food items such as ice, dirt, or paper)
The Consequences of Iron Deficiency in Children
Left untreated, iron deficiency can lead to iron deficiency anemia. Studies have found that children who suffer from iron deficiency experience lifelong physical and mental health issues, including:
- Concentration issues with reduced attention span
- Reduced intelligence
- Learning disabilities
- Reduced emotional responsiveness
- Behavioural issues
What You Can Do
You can help treat/prevent iron deficiency in your child more easily than you may think, starting with:
- Taking them to the doctor for blood tests to diagnose low iron
- Introducing more iron rich foods into their diet (don’t worry; I’ve got your back! Read my 10 Clever Ways to Get More Iron into Your Child’s Diet to make it a breeze!)
- Finally, choose an iron supplement in liquid or powder form to make it easier to get them to take it. You can find them in kid-friendly flavours or flavourless and odourless.
Keep in mind that this is your child’s health and that iron deficiency can have profound effects on their lives as they grow. Prevention is your best defense!
Content and advice provided on The Iron Maiden is for information purposes only and should not serve as a substitute for a licensed health care provider, who is knowledgeable about an individual’s unique health care needs