Children's Health

What Every Patents Must Know

Iron deficiency anaemia is the most common micronutrient deficiency worldwide. Infants and children are particularly at risk due to high requirements for iron for growth and development. In this blog post I will explain 3 key points you may want to consider in order to reduce the risk of iron deficiency anemia in your child. I have seen children as young as 11 months needing iron supplementation and in worse cases, a blood transfusion due to low iron levels.

Here is how you may avoid this happening to your child.

But first, let me explain a bit more about iron….

Why Is Iron Important?

Iron is necessary in the production of red blood cells in the body. These cells carry oxygen around in the body and therefore help to keep the body healthy, happy and energized!

What Are The Signs Of Iron Deficiency Anaemia?

  • Pale skin
  • Lack of energy
  • Poor appetite
  • Rapid breathing
  • Behavioral problems
  • Unusual cravings for non-nutritive substances, such as ice, dirt or paint

How Much Does My Child Need?

Infants ages 7-12 months need 11 milligrams of iron a day. Toddlers ages 1-3 years need 7 milligrams of iron each day. 

Human Iron Absorption

I have seen thousands of children over the years as a dietitian and what I can conclude is that we all respond differently to foods. Nutrigenetics is the interplay between nutrition and your own genetics as an individual. For example, based on your genetics, you may benefit from more, or less, of certain vitamins or minerals – such as folic acid, or iron, respectively. I have seen children who do eat a lot of iron rich foods but still suffer with iron deficiency anaemia, usually this is do to a genetic link. Some of us absorb iron better than others. I have also found that iron deficiency anaemia is common in the Asian, Middle Eastern and the Caribbean community. Could this be due to a change from traditional to a Western diet? Who knows…

Here are the 3 Key Points To Consider For Reducing The Risk If Iron Deficiency Anaemia:

1) Iron Rich Foods

Is your child eating enough iron rich foods?

The list of foods that contain iron is large. Here is a snapshot:

Weetabix

Ready Brek

Eggs

Lentils

Beef

Sardines

Cashew nuts

Apricots

Spinach

Broccoli

Cashew butter

2) Milk Intake

From one year, children should meet their nutrient requirements from a diverse range of foods whilst continuing consumption of breast milk, cow’s milk or any other calcium fortified dairy substitute such as soya milk. What is an appropriate amount of milk? From the age of 1 year children must not exceed more than 540 – 630 ml of milk per day.  Children who drink excessive amounts of milk are at risk of iron deficiency. This is due to the fact that milk alone does not contain enough iron to meet their requirements for growth and development. In fact, cow’s milk is low in iron and can actually prevent iron from being absorbed from the diet.

For the weaning baby (typically between ages 4-6 months) consider foods such as iron-fortified baby cereal,

For your growing toddler include iron rich foods including red meat, beans, green leafy vegetables, and iron-fortified cereals. If you are raising your child vegetarian or vegan then ensure you identify appropriate foods high in iron such as broccoli, cashew nuts, tahini or even hemp protein!

3) Fussy Eaters

If you have a child who doesn’t eat foods high in iron then you may want to consider a multivitamin supplement but also look at the amount of fluid they drink. Are they filling up on milk? Although it is recommended not to use formula milk after one, if your child is a fussy eater then you may want to continue with formula or toddler milk since they are fortified with iron. (Toddler milk is high in sugar so don’t use this unless you really have too). It’s always a good idea to speak to an expert first though.

I hope this blog post provided value. If so I would love to hear from you so feel free to leave a comment below.

Should you want an immediate consultation then why not book yourself in for an online consultation with myself today by calling +447825750040. I provide help and guidance to parents all over the world from the comfort of their home.

 

Please note that this information neither is medical advice, nor is it meant to replace the advice of your doctor or dietitian and I assume no liability for the use or misuse of this information

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