Iron deficiency anemia: A common form of nutritional disorder, iron deficiency results in anemia as iron is necessary to make hemoglobin, key molecule in red blood cells responsible for the transport of oxygen. In iron deficiency anemia, the red cells appear abnormal and are unusually small (microcytic) and pale (hypochromic). The pallor of the red cells reflects their low hemoglobin content.
The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia spans all ages and races. In children, iron deficiency causes developmental delays, behavioral disturbances, failure to thrive (grow) and increased infections.
Iron deficiency is a major problem in developed countries such as the US, Canada, the UK and across Europe. In developing countries, iron deficiency anemia is frequently exacerbated by malaria and worm infections.
The treatment of iron deficiency anemia , whether it be in children or adults, is with iron and iron-containing foods. Food sources of iron include meat, poultry, eggs, vegetables and cereals (especially those fortified with iron). According to the National Academy of Sciences, the Recommended Dietary Allowances of iron are 15 milligrams per day for women and 10 milligrams per day for men. Do not give iron supplements to children unless the doctor recommends it.
A cause of iron deficiency anemia is the ulcer bacteria. The successful treatment of infection with Helicobacter pylori (the bacteria associated with irritation of the stomach lining and stomach ulcers) may also resolve iron deficiency anemia.Iron deficiency can also result from blood loss anywhere in the gastrointestinal tract, and is sometimes associated with cancer.