The Reasons Iron Is Important for Children

images (7)Why is iron important for children?

Iron is a nutrient that’s essential to your child’s growth and development. Iron helps move oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body and helps muscles store and use oxygen. If your child’s diet lacks iron, he or she may develop a condition called iron deficiency. Iron deficiency in children can occur at many levels, from depleted iron stores to anemia — a condition in which blood lacks adequate healthy red blood cells. Red blood cells carry oxygen to the body’s tissues, providing energy and giving skin a healthy color. Untreated iron deficiency in children can cause physical and mental delays in areas such as walking and talking.

What are the risk factors for iron deficiency in children?

Infants and children at highest risk of iron deficiency include:

Babies who are born prematurely — more than three weeks before their due date — or have a low birth weight
Babies who drink cow’s milk before age 1
Breast-fed babies who aren’t given complementary foods containing iron after age 6 months
Babies who drink formula that isn’t fortified with iron
Children ages 1 to 5 who drink more than 24 ounces (710 milliliters) of cow’s milk, goat’s milk or soy milk a day
Children who have certain health conditions, such as chronic infections or restricted diets
Adolescent girls also are at higher risk of iron deficiency because their bodies lose iron during menstruation.