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Iron-Deficiency Anemia Treatment Options

After the doctor knows your child has anemia and low iron is the cause, the doctor can suggest ways to return red blood cell levels and hemoglobin levels to normal. Some changes in your child's diet may be enough.

These are common treatments for iron-deficiency anemia:

  • Eating more foods that contain iron, such as:
    • Cereal, pasta, bread and other grains with iron added (known as iron fortified)
    • Meat. All types of meat provide some iron. Beef and liver (from any animal) have the most. Chicken, turkey, pork, lamb, fish and other meats have iron, too.
    • Eggs
    • Dark green leafy vegetables, like spinach, collard greens, kale and broccoli
    • Beans and legumes, like black-eyed peas, chick peas, green peas, pinto beans and baked beans. Also, peanut butter - peanuts are legumes.
    • Some dried fruits, like dried apricots and dried figs
    • Yellow fruits and vegetables, like bananas
  • Giving less cow's milk to infants, and giving them more iron-rich formula or other foods
  • Taking medicine to boost iron levels
  • In girls who have their period, giving birth control pills to help reduce bleeding when they menstruate

Whatever your child's age, our doctors and dietitians can advise you about how to make sure he is getting enough iron - but not too much. Too much iron can harm children. This goes for some other vitamins and minerals, too.

Always check with your child's doctor to find out the right amount before giving your child supplements. Follow the doctor's directions about how to give them (like to give them along with certain foods) because this may help your child's body absorb them. Vitamin C helps the body absorb iron.

In rare cases, iron-deficiency anemia can get so severe that a child needs to stay in the hospital and may need a blood transfusion. We offer all the inpatient services your child may need for anemia.

Who Treats This at Seattle Children's?

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Spring 2014: Good Growing Newsletter

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Download Spring 2014 (PDF)