Anemia is a low level of healthy red blood cells (RBC). RBCs carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. Iron is needed to build healthy RBCs. Lower RBC counts mean the body is not getting enough oxygen.
Factors that play a role include:
These factors may increase your chance of developing this condition:
Most people with mild anemia have no symptoms. In those who do have them, anemia may cause:
You will be asked about your symptoms and medical history. A physical exam will be done.
Your bodily fluids and waste products may be tested. This can be done with:
Treatments may include:
Iron can be taken as a supplement or as part of a multivitamin. Iron comes in many "salt" forms. Ferrous salts are better absorbed than ferric salts. Ferrous sulfate is the cheapest and most commonly used iron salt. Slow-release or coated products may cause less stomach problems. However, they may not be absorbed as well. Some products contain vitamin C to improve absorption. Talk to your doctor, though, because your iron level could get too high.
To help reduce your chance of having anemia:
Ask your doctor if your infant is getting enough iron. General guidelines include:
Healthy Children—American Academy of Pediatrics
The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists
Dietitians of Canada
Iron. EBSCO Natural and Alternative Treatments website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/biomedical-libraries/natural-alternative-treatments. Updated August 2013. Accessed September 23, 2015.
Iron deficiency in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T115986/Iron-deficiency-anemia-in-adults. Updated July 12, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Iron deficiency in children (infancy through adolescence). EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T435307/Iron-deficiency-in-children-infancy-through-adolescence. Updated August 22, 2016. Accessed September 28, 2016.
Iron fortification of infant formulas. Pediatrics. 1999;104:119-123.
US Preventive Services Task Force. The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services: Report of the United States Preventive Services Task Force. 2nd ed. Philadelphia, PA: Lippincott Williams & Wilkins; 2002.
US Preventive Services Task Force. The Guide to Clinical Preventive Services: Report of the United States Preventive Services Task Force. AHRQ Publication No. 06-0588; Rockville, MD: 2006.
10/12/2010 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.dynamed.com/topics/dmp~AN~T435307/Iron-deficiency-in-children-infancy-through-adolescence: Baker R, Greer F, Committee on Nutrition American Academy of Pediatrics. Diagnosis and prevention of iron deficiency and iron-deficiency anemia in infants and young children (0-3 years of age). Pediatrics. 2010;126(5):1040-1050.
Last reviewed September 2016 by Marcin Chwistek, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.