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Iron deficiency in infants and young children: Screening, prevention, clinical manifestations, and diagnosis

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 World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that anemia affects one quarter of the world's population and is concentrated within preschool-aged children and women; a majority of the anemia is due to iron deficiency. Iron deficiency is a particularly challenging problem for resource-limited nations in Asia and Africa [1,2]. In the United States and other resource-rich countries, rates of iron deficiency are substantially lower and are gradually improving, but 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 [3]. Despite the decrease in prevalence of iron deficiency over the last decade, reaching this goal will be challenging, especially in children who are at-risk for iron deficiency.

Issues related to iron metabolism and the clinical manifestations, diagnosis, and treatment of iron deficiency in infants and young children are reviewed here. Related material can be found in the following topic reviews:

(See "Iron deficiency in infants and young children: Treatment".)

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


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Literature review current through: Sep 2016. | This topic last updated: Jun 23, 2016.
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