Iron deficiency in toddlers, preschool children, and teenage girls is still all too common in the US. Healthy People 2010 is a program that has set an achievable target of dropping iron deficiency rates to 5 percent, 1 percent, and 7 percent respectively in these age groups during the current decade. Where do we stand now?
We still have a way to go, with iron deficiency of a degree sufficient to impact intellectual growth in as many as 1 in 14 toddlers and 1 in 6 teenage girls, according to the October 11, 2002 issue of the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. Millions of children and teens are affected! Children who are iron deficient don’t learn as well. Memory and school performance are decreased. Athletic performance suffers.
These kids may feel tired, weak, and cranky. They may have headaches and a poor appetite, but the brain can be affected even in the absence of other symptoms. Kids with iron deficiency anemia tend to get sick more often. Iron needs can usually be met with a healthy diet. All children should be screened at the appropriate ages to determine if they are getting enough iron.