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Iron deficiency 

Iron deficiency
Chapter:
Iron deficiency
Author(s):

John Puntis

DOI:
10.1093/med/9780198759928.003.0009
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date: 31 May 2020

Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in the world, affecting around 5 billion people mostly in developing countries. Risk factors in infants include low birthweight, high cow milk consumption, low intake of iron containing complementary foods, low socioeconomic status, and immigrant status. Developmental delay and poor educational achievement are among the long-term complications. Preventative strategies include promotion of breastfeeding, use of iron-fortified formula if breast milk not available, encouraging intake of iron-rich foods, vitamin C-rich drinks with meals to promote iron absorption, and avoiding whole cow’s milk in the first year of life. Poor response to oral iron treatment is most likely due to poor compliance (iron ingestion may cause abdominal pain diarrhoea or constipation) but should also raise the possibility of underlying disease causing inflammation, malabsorption, or blood loss.

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