Anemia in a Child

  • Fitterfly - Team Nutrition

  • Posted On August 13, 2019


Your doctor has suspected that your child has anemia (low Hemoglobin level in your child’s blood) and advised you to plan an iron-rich diet for your anaemic child.

Here are some Frequently Asked Questions to help you understand what this means and tips on how you can help your child fight anemia.

What does Low Hemoglobin or Iron deficiency Anemia mean?

Anemia means that haemoglobin (protein in red blood cells which carries oxygen) level in your child’s blood is low, so blood would not be able to carry enough oxygen to all parts of his/her body.

If this continues, it can have a long-term impact on his/her physical and mental development.

What are the common Anemia symptoms in a child?

A child with iron deficiency anemia may:

  • Look pale
  • Appear cranky
  • Get tired easily
  • Often feel dizzy or light-headed
  • Have a fast or irregular heart beat
  • Get frequent infections (Low immunity)
  • Have developmental delays and behavioral problems

Chronic iron-deficiency can lead to long-term and permanent impairment of physical and mental development.

How do you fix anemia?

Your child needs to follow 2 things for treatment of anemia

1. Eat iron rich food- best to take a dietitians advice for a diet plan

2. Take iron supplements advised by your doctor

That seems easy. How do I get started?

You need to give iron rich foods to your child . Within food, Iron is available as heme iron through non vegetarian food and non-heme iron through vegetarian food. Heme iron is easier to absorb, so vegetarians usually find it difficult to get enough iron through their diet alone. Hence, the importance of a good diet plan.

Dietary iron requirements change with age. Hence, Indian Council of Medical Research has come up with Iron Recommended Dietary Allowance [RDA] throughout childhood:

Age Male Female
Birth to 6 months 0.27 mg* 0.27 mg*
7–12 months 11 mg 11 mg
1–3 years 7 mg 7 mg
4–8 years 10 mg 10 mg
9–13 years 8 mg 8 mg
14–18 years 11 mg 15 mg

It is possible to meet your child’s requirement of iron through their diet by ensuring sufficient iron rich foods and proper absorption of iron.

What are these iron rich foods?

  • Non-vegetarian sources of iron - lean meat and seafood
  • Vegetarian sources of iron - nuts, beans, lentils, tofu, chickpeas, vegetables like spinach, tomato, potato, green peas, and fortified grain products.  
  • Vitamin C rich foods to Boost Absorption of iron - Citrus fruits – lemons, oranges, berries, mangoes, strawberries

How can I Boost Iron Absorption through Diet?

  • Eat Vitamin C rich foods along with iron rich foods. The easiest way to do this is by squeezing fresh lime over a salad.
  • Add pumpkin seeds and flaxseeds in your salads, cereals and cooked vegetables.
  • Switch to whole grains
  • Eat potatoes with the skin
  • Avoid tea/coffee

Are there any Dos and Dont’s while taking Iron Supplements?

  • Don’t self-medicate
  • Stick to the dosage prescribed by the doctor
  • Do not take iron and calcium supplement together
  • Take iron supplement one hour before food to maximize absorption. In case it causes cramps, diarrhea- take it with small amount of food but avoid milk or antacids with the supplements.
  • Have enough fruits and vegetables to prevent constipation

Even a low level of iron deficiency can adversely affect your child’s energy and focus in short term and permanent growth and development in long term.  Be sure to tell your pediatrician if your child shows any unusual signs or symptoms. A balanced wholesome diet can prevent chances of anemia and correct Iron deficiency.

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Disclaimer: All information here, including text, images, tables, videos and any other content is for your knowledge only and we do not guarantee any specific result by following these recommendations as it may vary from person to person. The information is not a substitute for qualified medical advice from a doctor or other medical health expert.