Fact Sheets for Families Deficiency in Early Childhood

Childhood is a common nutritional de- stages. Infants are born with a reserve of iron from their ficiency in America—affecting 2.4 million US children. mother’s , which can meet their needs until 4 to Iron is a important for healthy blood and brain 6 months of age. After that, they need to get iron from development. Our bodies need iron to make , food or supplements. Since premature and low-birth- a that gives color to red blood cells. Hemoglobin weight children have little iron stored in their bodies, functions as a carrier of in the body. they are at greater risk for iron-deficiency. What are the consequences? Infants and toddlers: A fast rate of growth together The most -known consequence of iron deficiency with inadequate dietary iron puts children less than is . Anemia can cause developmental delays 24 months of age at the highest risk for iron deficiency. and behavioral disturbances such as decreased motor Young children are at risk if: activity, social interaction and attention to tasks. Several • their nutrition is poor studies show an increased likelihood of mild or moder- • they have in their blood ate mental retardation associated with iron deficiency, • they drink too much cow’s milk or are introduced even if it has not progressed to the point of anemia. to whole cow’s milk before 1 year of age • they are breastfed longer than 4 to 6 months without Childhood is a well-documented cause of receiving complimentary iron-rich foods or neurological and developmental problems such as lower iron supplements IQ, learning disabilities and behavioral abnormalities. • they are fed with low-iron formula Iron deficiency contributes to the problem through in- • they are living at or below the poverty line creased absorption of lead. Tips for preventions Iron Deficiency Anemia (IDA) • Exercise exclusive breast-feeding (without supple- There are several types of anemia, all with different mentary liquid, formula or food) for the first 4-6 causes. IDA is the most common type, happens when months. people do not have enough iron in their body. When • If breast-feeding is not possible, use only iron-forti- children do not get enough iron, they may have slow fied . weight gain, pale skin, decreased appetite, , • Add complimentary foods with sources of iron at 4 tiredness, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat and feel- to 6 months of age. ing of being lightheaded. • Avoid use of regular cow, or soy milk before age 12 months. What are the causes? • Discourage children aged 1-5 years from consuming A child can have a low iron level because of insufficient more than 24 oz of cow’s milk. iron in the , poor absorption of iron by the body or • Provide foods with C as it helps the body ongoing blood loss. absorb iron. • Who is at risk? Offer foods such as red , , iron fortified , leafy green vegetables and dried fruits since Premature and low-birth-weight children: Children they are rich in iron. need different amounts of iron at different ages and • Provide breakfast cereals that are fortified with iron- -check ingredients on the package. by A. Rahman Zamani, MD, MPH Provided by California Childcare Health Program For more information, please contact: References and Resources Healthline 1-800-333-3212 CCHP Health and Safety Note: Anemia, Lead Poisoning and Child Care at www.ucsfchildcarehealth.org/pdfs/healthandsafety/anemi- Distributed by: aen081803.pdf Centers for Control and Prevention (CDC), Recommenda- tions to Prevent and Control Iron Deficiency in the United States American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) at www.aap.org 09/08