Iron-Deficiency Anemia Iron deficiency anemia is the most common cause of anemia in the United States.This condition occurs when an iron-deprived body cannot produce enough hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that transports oxygen throughout the body. The inadequate supply of hemoglobin for new blood cells results in anemia. Iron-deficiency anemia causes a number of problems including weakness, pale skin, shortness of breath, and irritability. It can also result in intellectual, behavioral, or motor problems. In infants and toddlers, iron-deficiency anemia can occur as young children are weaned from iron-rich foods, such as breast milk and iron-fortified formula. They begin to eat solid foods that may not provide enough of this nutrient. As a result, their iron stores become diminished at a time when this nutrient is critical for brain growth and development. There are steps that parents and caregivers can take to prevent iron-deficiency anemia, such as adding more iron-rich foods to a child’s diet, including lean meats, fish, poultry, eggs, legumes,and iron-enriched whole-grain breads and cereals40 and foods high in vitamin C, which helps the body absorb iron efficiently. Although milk is critical for the bone-building calcium that it provides, intake should not exceed the recommended daily allowance (RDA) to avoid displacing foods rich with iron.
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