Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) is the most common nutrient disorder affecting many people worldwide, especially women and children (1,2). Hemoglobin values below 11.0 g/dL in children will lead to IDA (3). Although IDA affects mainly people from developing countries, it is also a major public health issue in industrialized nations. In Canada, 3,5-10% of children suffer from IDA (4).
Firstly, IDA has a negative impact on child development. IDA has been an indicator of Attention deficit and/or hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in children (5). Children with ADHD and IDA tend to be more inattentive, hyperactive and also show memorization difficulty compared to healthy children, especially during schooling. Finally, IDA is also linked with fatigue, feeling cold, hair loss, poor appetite, paleness, impaired behavior and other health conditions (5,6).
Therefore, it is very important to acknowledge the risk factors of IDA in children. Children from mothers with IDA during pregnancy have a higher risk of suffering from IDA during development compared to children from iron sufficient mothers (4). Iron deficiency is also the most common cause of IDA. Canadian Aboriginal children show a higher prevalence of IDA with 14-50% due to high consumption of evaporated milk and cow milk after six months of age, prolonged exclusive breastfeeding and significant load of Helicobacter pylori infection (4). Other groups of Canadian at risk of iron deficiency include children from families with low socioeconomic status, Chinese background, infants with low birth weight and children that have consumed cow’s milk before 12 months of age. Finally, other risk factors of IDA include vegetarian diets by the family.
To help reduce the negative outcome of IDA seen in children, an adequate dietary iron intake is required to replace the lost of iron, with respect to age and gender, and to compensate for the enhanced demand during development in order to maintain balance. If your blood values are showing signs of IDA or even low iron, do not hesitate to contact your SNC dietitian and get the help you need to help normalize your iron level and live a better lifestyle. -SNC-
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