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Iron deficiency in infants and children <12 years: Screening, prevention, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis

Jacquelyn M Powers, MD, MS
Donald H Mahoney, Jr, MD
Section Editors
Kathleen J Motil, MD, PhD
Jan E Drutz, MD
Deputy Editor
Alison G Hoppin, MD


Iron deficiency is the most common nutritional deficiency in children. The global prevalence of anemia in 2010 was 32.9 percent, with the highest burden in children less than five years of age [1]. Iron deficiency is a particularly challenging problem for resource-limited nations in Asia and Africa [2,3]. In the United States and other resource-rich countries, rates of iron deficiency are substantially lower, yet iron deficiency is still common and can have important consequences to health and development. The United States Department of Health and Human Services has set a target of reducing iron deficiency by 10 percent by 2020 [4].

This topic review focuses on evaluation for anemia that is likely due to iron deficiency in infants and young children, including screening, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis. Related material can be found in the following topic reviews:

(See "Iron deficiency in infants and children <12 years: Treatment".)

(See "Iron requirements and iron deficiency in adolescents".)

(See "Approach to the child with anemia".)

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Literature review current through: Sep 2017. | This topic last updated: Oct 16, 2017.
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