Iron-Out-of-Balance™ in Children
What it is
Iron-Out-of-Balance™ in Children is a condition when iron is too high or too low for the child to develop, grow and live normally. Other words to describe Iron-Out-of-Balance™ include iron disorder, iron imbalance, too much iron or too little iron.
A child with an iron imbalance may display any number of symptoms, which can be different depending upon the cause of the iron imbalance. For example, a child with iron little iron (iron deficiency) will be very tired, not want to play and the color inside their eyes and mouth will be pale. A child with too much iron (iron overload) can also be tired but there will be other symptoms such as an enlarged spleen or joint pain. This is not the entire list of symptoms or signs that a child has an iron imbalance. Caregivers should never give a child iron pills or any medication without talking with a doctor. If an iron imbalance is suspected, the first step is to get tests that will confirm that iron is too high or too low.
Detection of Iron-Out-of-Balance™
Compared to adults, infants and newborns have very high iron levels. These should not be mistaken for iron overload. A pediatrician can take blood and confirm if your child has too little iron or too much. Among the first tests the doctor may order to measure iron include serum iron, TIBC, serum ferritin and a Complete Blood Count (CBC). CHr (hemoglobin reticulocyte content) is another helpful test for young children because this test can confirm iron deficiency in its very early stages.
Biopsy/bone marrow aspiration:
This is an invasive procedure and not used unless serious illness such as cancers or blood diseases are present. In the procedure specific organ such as the liver or bone marrow are examined. Scans, such as, MRI, ultrasound, CT or PET are also not routinely used on children. A pediatrician will guide you on the appropriateness of these types of procedures.
Causes of Iron-Out-of-Balance™ in CHILDREN
Iron deficiency is the most common iron disorder in children. This can be caused by lead poisoning, nutritional deficiencies or disease (generally rare). Too much iron is also rare in children. Newborns and infants demonstrate very high levels of iron in blood tests but this is normal. If these new lives are deprived of the iron they need for the rapid growth and development of their brain, bones, and organs, these systems will be delayed or impaired in some cases permanently.
Nutrition, behavior or illnesses that are inherited or acquired are the key causes of an iron imbalance.
How they are fed, or choose to eat
Breastfeeding is the very best source of iron for infants. At six months of age meat and vegetables can be introduced, but breast milk should be continued. When the child develops teeth, the breast feeding can be limited or replaced with soy-based milks. Cow’s milk should not be given to a child who is two years old or younger. Their intestines are not mature enough to handle cow’s milk; bleeding can occur and anemia develop.
Habits: how they behave
Iron supplements should not be given to a child whose iron levels are adequate. Evidence suggests that doing so could cause problems later on.
Drugs: We typically do not think of children as abusers of alcohol, tobacco or illegal drugs, but there is evidence of use of these harmful products by children as young as 8 years of age.
Diseases that can cause Iron-Out-of-Balance™ in children
Hemoglobin diseases (sickle cell, thalassemia, aplastic and hypoplastic anemias)
For more information about these rare forms of disease visit:
Therapies for Iron-Out-of-Balance™
Oral, infused or injected iron
Diet for iron deficiency