Could your child be iron-deficient?

Therese Reyes

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Could your child be iron-deficient?
Babies transitioning to a solid diet could be susceptible to lower iron levels

MANILA, Philippines – The first months after a child is born are usually a blissful yet busy blur for parents. Babies grow and develop rapidly during this period, and parents need to quickly learn how to provide for their child’s needs, especially when it comes to diet and nutrition.

Parents are advised to start incorporating solids like mashed sweet potatoes and broccoli into meals by the 6th month. As the baby grows, he needs a higher supply of nutrients, such as iron. Since the body is not producing enough iron in this period of rapid growth and development, it is important to ensure that the baby’s diet contains food sources of iron.

You may be aware that iron is a vital mineral; something your body needs in order to go through its processes efficiently. But just how important is it, especially for your baby?

What will happen if my baby is iron-deficient?

Low iron levels can lead to anemia. Anemia is a condition where the body experiences a decrease in red blood cells or hemoglobin. Many different factors can trigger it, but the most common cause is lack of iron in the body. Iron deficiency anemia (IDA) usually develops when a child is not getting enough iron-rich food like meat, eggs, and green leafy vegetables. 

  1. IDA affects the blood’s oxygen levels. Apart from helping the body produce red blood cells, iron, as a part of hemoglobin also helps bind oxygen to these cells, aiding in the transport of oxygen from the lungs to cells throughout your child’s body. Without iron, the body won’t have enough red blood cells and in turn, will lack the sufficient amount of oxygen. This will cause your tot to look pale and feel fatigued. 
  2. It’s essential for other important processes too. Iron is also responsible for metabolizing blood sugar to give your baby the energy he needs. Without iron, his energy metabolism, respiration, and immune function would be affected. 
  3. It has long-term effects on your child. IDA has immediate symptoms such as fatigue and irritability. It could also cause more long-term negative effects like delayed mental, motor, and social development. A study also observed that even as they get older, children who were iron deficient as infants continue to perform weaker than those who had good iron status during infancy.


 How to find out if your baby is iron-deficient

  1. Observe your baby’s appearance and behavior. Take note of his mannerisms, gait, and overall appearance. Signs of iron deficiency include a pale complexion, inflammation of the tongue, difficulty maintaining body temperature, increased susceptibility to infections, and fatigue. Any of these may signal IDA.
  2. Do the Palm Test. To check if your baby might be anemic, you can try the Palm Test. To do this, simply place his palm on yours and compare the complexion of the two. If you see that his skin is noticeably paler, this may indicate that he has anemia. Aside from his palms, you may also notice a decrease in pinkness on the lips and nail beds

Fight iron deficiency

Infants aged 6 to 12 months old are recommended to have iron daily and typically need additional sources of iron at this stage.

To increase your baby’s daily iron levels, feed him iron-rich food like beef, spinach, eggs, fish, and tofu. Adding iron-enriched cereal especially made for children 6 months and above to his diet will also help provide the necessary amount of iron and give him the vitality he needs. —

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