Children tend to have a higher risk of iron deficiency (ID) and iron deficiency anemia (IDA) than adults, with some child groups being at greater risk than others. Let’s take a look at these groups and what it is that puts them at a greater risk for this deficiency, which can lead to decreased immunity, impaired cognitive function, and more.
- Premature or low birth weight babies: Babies who are born prematurely as well as those born with a low weight have an increased risk of ID and IDA because they don’t have as much iron stored in their bodies;
- Ages 9 months to 3 years: Babies in this age group have an increased risk of ID because of rapid growth and insufficient dietary iron to keep up with their increasing need;
- Age 10 years through puberty: During this time, children experience growth spurts around the time of puberty and females in particular are at even higher risk of ID and IDA because of the blood loss that occurs with menstruation;
- Babies who breastfeed for a prolonged period: A study found an increased risk of ID in children who breastfeed for a prolonged period. A cross-sectional analysis of 1647 children aged 1 to 6 years, who had been breastfed anywhere from 0 to 48 months, found that the odds of ID increased by 4.8% each month of breastfeeding;
- Those who drink 600ml of milk or more daily: Drinking too much milk is a common cause of iron deficiency, not only because it contains little iron and often leads to eating less iron-containing foods, but it also blocks iron absorption;
- Those introduced to whole milk before 12 months: Introducing whole milk, which contains little iron, into a baby’s diet before 12 months replaces the iron-fortified formula and cereal that they need to accommodate the lower iron stores that are common during the second half of their first year;
- Children with celiac disease: Celiac disease is an immune reaction to gluten that causes irritation to the small intestine that interferes with the body’s ability to absorb dietary gluten. Learn more →
According to the World Health Organization and the United Nations Children’s Fund, an estimated 750 million children suffer from ID and IDA globally.
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