Low Iron



Iron Deficiency and Iron Homeostasis in Low Birth Weight Preterm Infants: A Systematic Review.
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Jorge Moreno-FernandezJulio J. OchoaGladys O. Latunde-Dada, and Javier Diaz-Castro

“Iron is an essential micronutrient that is involved in many functions in humans, as it plays a critical role in the growth and development of the central nervous system, among others. Premature and low birth weight infants have higher iron requirements due to increased postnatal growth compared to that of term infants and are, therefore, susceptible to a higher risk of developing iron deficiency or iron deficiency anemia.”


Iron is an essential nutrient that carries oxygen in the blood. It is also vital for energy production, growth development, brain function, immune activity and healthy cell function.

Prematurity and low birth weight are major risk factors for the development of iron deficiency in children.

Babies, children and teenagers undergo regular and rapid growth spurts which increase their need for iron. If your child is following a vegan or vegetarian diet they are at higher risk of iron deficiency and extra care needs to be taken.

Iron deficiency can affect a child’s energy and their ability to learn or focus. Severe iron deficiency can result in sustained developmental problems.

The signs and symptoms of iron deficiency anaemia in school aged children include:

  • Repeated infections
  • Lethargy
  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue and or breathlessness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased sweating
  • Food cravings like eating dirt or ice
  • Failure to grow at the expected rate


To prevent iron deficiency in school aged kids:

  • Include lean red meat 3 - 4 times a week. Other important sources of iron include dried beans, lentils, chickpeas, poultry, fish, eggs and small amounts of nuts and nut pastes.
  • Include Vitamin C as this helps the body absorb more iron. Foods rich in Vitamin C include oranges, lemons, berries, tomatoes, cabbage and broccoli.

Intestinal parasites such as worms can cause iron deficiency. See your doctor for prompt diagnosis and treatment.

Picky eaters may be at risk of iron deficiency due to inadequate food intake or a reduced variety in their diet. It’s important to seek advice from an accredited Practising Dietitian, doctor or child health nurse.

If you suspect your child may have iron deficiency, talk to your child’s doctor and he/she can arrange for screening to check iron levels. Diagnosis also involved the exclusion of other illnesses that have similar symptoms. Iron can be toxic, so it is important to avoid giving iron supplementation to your child unless advised to do so by your doctor.

Being aware of the symptoms of iron deficiency in children and what foods contain iron will help prevent your child from developing iron deficiency anaemia. This will all help ease any anxiety you might possibly feel. 

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Disclaimer: This publication by Miracle Babies Foundation is intended solely for general education and assistance and it is it is not medical advice or a healthcare recommendation. It should not be used for the purpose of medical diagnosis or treatment for any individual condition. This publication has been developed by our Parent Advisory Team (all who are parents of premature and sick babies) and has been reviewed and approved by a Clinical Advisory Team. This publication is not a substitute for professional medical advice. Miracle Babies Foundation recommends that professional medical advice and services be sought out from a qualified healthcare provider familiar with your personal circumstances.To the extent permitted by law, Miracle Babies Foundation excludes and disclaims any liability of any kind (directly or indirectly arising) to any reader of this publication who acts or does not act in reliance wholly or partly on the content of this general publication. If you would like to provide any feedback on the information please email [email protected].