Anemia is a condition in which red blood cells which carry oxygen to the body are not present in sufficient numbers. The vast majority of cases of anemia are due to iron deficiency, although there are other causes such as sickle cell anemia, hereditary spherocytosis and thalassemia to name a few. We routinely check a child for anemia at one year of age.
Symptoms of anemia include pallor (pale appearance), lethargy, poor growth and a tendency to fatigue easily. Other symptoms of anemia exist which are less common. If your child is diagnosed with iron deficiency anemia, usually an iron supplement is prescribed. This medication is usually given for several months to replenish the iron stores of the body.
At birth, an infant is born with extra iron reserves. By two months of age, these stores have been utilized and the child requires iron from the diet to prevent anemia. For breast fed infants, no iron supplementation is usually needed for the infant. Infants who are bottle fed should be on formula which is fortified with iron.
Children over the age of one should have a diet high in iron containing foods. Examples of foods high in iron are beef, pork, liver, chicken, iron fortified cereal, beans, peas, eggs, tuna, peanut butter, tomatoes, pasta, green vegetables and prune juice.