4 Year Old with Low Iron- Ferritin Level at 12 - Redmond,WA

Updated on July 21, 2012
S.E. asks from Redmond, WA
11 answers

We had my daughters blood checked for iron at her 4 year checkup. Being first time parents, we were concerned that she is sensitive at times. Aren't all children? Anyway, the doctor suggested an iron check because there is some relationship between behavior issues and low iron levels. She is a happy girl, not tired, not showing signs of anemia. She does have some anxiety around other children and is a bit antisocial. But, maybe that is just her personality. She is calm, focused, bright and not hyper. On the other end, she is not sleepy or 'spacey'. We did the test anyway because he put doubt into our mind, and because we aren't around a lot of other kids, so don't know what is 'normal'.

So, we got the results back, and all her blood work looked good... except her ferritin level was at 12. :( So, they said it was really low, and borderline anemic. They want us to do 3ML everyday for a month, then do another blood draw. They want her levels to be in the 20s. Apparently, change in diet cannot do this, as the body needs a lot of iron to build up it's stores. It takes a long time. So, I guess my concern is giving a 4 year old 29lb girl 3 times the amount of iron she needs. Will it give her a lot of constipation? They want me to give her Fer-In-Sol, which is Ferrous Sulphate. I know that floradix is a more non constipating form (ferrous gloconate) but she would need to drink 50mg of it and it has all those herbs mixed with it. It's a lot of to take. Not sure if all the herbs are good for her, either, with taking so much. Has anyone had experience with this? I'm concerned about the constipation. If she becomes constipated, she may never want to use the bathroom again and hold her BMs. Also, I was reading Dr. Sears website and they say that 7-140 ferritin level was normal. But, my doctor says that 13-150 is the normal range. So, what is correct??? Or, no one really knows? Either way, I'm okay with giving her more iron, but am afraid of the side effects. If anyone can ease my mind with this, that would be great, as I'm struggling with it and concerned about all the iron I have to give her. Also, if your child did get constipated was it really bad? screaming, crying, stomach cramping, etc...? I know I'm thinking of the worst, but I've taken iron before it was horrible.

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answers from Portland on

On the constipation.... Use miralax. It's safe for small children, non habit forming, simply hydrates the intestines.

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answers from Cleveland on

Looks like you've done your research! Bio-available iron (like Floradix) is more easily absorbed in the body and should not cause constipation. It seems to me that gently and naturally increasing your daughters iron would be better for her system then flooding it with a lot of iron it won't even be able to absorb. A lot of the mom's I know that use Floradix mix it into a smoothie.

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answers from Seattle on

It seems like unless she needs it bumped up right away that it might be worthwhile to allow her to get her stores up through food sources. They tend to be most bioavailable vs. vitamins. Leafy greans (including broc) and red meat are two of the best food sources.



answers from Eugene on

no experience but just did a search for "ferritin children normal" and came up with a website livestrong.com which lists even lower normal levels than dr. sears. if i were you i'd do more research about this before agreeing to supplementation, which as you know can cause lots of problems itself. even if your dr. were right that below 13 is abnormal, at 12 she's pretty close to that! i would personally much prefer to get her to eat more iron-rich foods, especially dark leafy greens (as they have so many good things in them beyond iron). if it's not that easy to get her to eat greens you could give them to her in the form of green drinks (you can find lots of good ideas online if you search for "green drinks"), you can mix other things in like fruit etc to make them tastier. i think you're right on in questioning this and doing your own research about it. and as far as the "behavior issues" go, i'd explore the emotional and situational origins of those. and as you say she may be just fine, just maybe a little more sensitive than some. there's a good book called the highly sensitive child which might be relevant.


answers from Eugene on

S. You live in Washington which has wonderful homeopaths. If she were my child I'd go to the health food store buy Ferrum Phos. 6c and give it to her twice a day two small pellets. Nothing by mouth 20 minutes before or after.
Supplies the wherewithall for the body to make iron.
What is your ridiclous doctor talking about? People have eaten their way out of anemia for centuries. Lamb twice a week builds iron and brings oxygen to the blood. They ate beets hence Florinix.
Only diabetics in serious condition can't eat their way out of anemia. Did he test for diabetes?
In Europe they call Allopathic Medicine School Medicine because it is so technocratic and without common sense.
If you don't believe me take the blood work up and get a second opinion from another doctor.


answers from Seattle on

I have extremely low Ferrtin levels. As I'm sure you know, this is not the same as being anemic. The iron available in my blood is normal, but if I were to bleed out from an injury it would take 2 weeks before my bone marrow would be able to produce new red blood cells. I have a wonderful Bastyr-trained Naturopathic doctor who put me on Ferrasorb. Thorne Laboratories makes it, and I buy it either online, from my doc, or at Pharmaca in Wallingford. This type of iron is readily available and easily absorbed. It comes in 25mg capsules, and I was taking 4 a day at one point before my delivery because we knew I was obviously going to be bleeding a lot, and were trying a final push to get my numbers up to 32 by my due date. (My doc said 8 was the low end, and that's what I was. But kids may be totally different.) This was in addition to eating lots of iron-rich foods.

The problem with so much iron is that when you are severely constipated, you actually get diarrhea. The body realizes how badly you need a BM and it just liquefies everything to get it out. This isn't as painful as being constipated, but is not a good situation with a child who won't stop what she's doing immediately and run to the bathroom.

Whomever told you that diet won't help doesn't know what they are talking about. Diet is the first and most important component of treating low iron levels. The body recognizes real nutrients and absorbs them. "Fake" nutrients (those found in supplements) are sometimes not recognized at all and you're literally flushing your money down the toilet. Here's the order of what is most helpful for getting iron levels up, aside from supplementation: cooking on cast iron, meat, legumes and nuts (will she dip veggies in hummus?), blackstrap molasses (although your daughter should win some kind of award if she would actually take some! Yuck!) potatoes (preferably organic) with the skin ON, Cream of Wheat, spinach & other leafy greens. Here's a link to a listing of mg/serving: http://www.bloodbook.com/iron-foods.html

Red meat also has a special effect on iron absorption. Red meat, when eaten together with the vegetables, can boost the absorption of non-hemo iron by up to 400%. Vitamin C has a similar positive effect on the absorption of iron. I always take my iron with OJ, but never with milk because dairy blocks the absorption.

Anyway, your daughter doesn't need a crash course like I did, unless you know she is having surgery soon. Just work hard on getting her as many iron-rich meals as you can, and do minimal supplementing at first. Then if her numbers go up you can teach your dr. a lesson, and if they don't you can add more supplements. Just don't jump to constipation right off the bat. Make trying the new foods something fun that she does with you. Let her help cook and make her own salads (my kids 3, 6, and 8 LOVe salad bar for lunch or supper and they put on whatever they want). Pretend you're an animal that loves to eat what you've made. Be creative!




answers from Portland on

Every child needs iron so it doesn't surprise me that some kids are low in iron. You need to find vitamins that have iron in them and not constipate. This may be a little difficult. There is only one that I know of (there may be more out there) that is guaranteed not to constipate and that is Shaklee for Kids. Go to www.nutritionandhealthnow.com and check it out. Go to 'shop' and click on Children's Health to check out the information. OR contact a Shaklee person near you.




answers from Washington DC on

my son had low iron anemia when he was a baby and originally i gave him the fer-in-sol (which smells like the kitchen sink-yuck!) and i increased the iron in his food. this did not work so i tried the floradix and mixed it with his juice or a smoothie like someone else mentioned. i also gave him prune juice during the day which has iron and helps with constipation. this seemed to do the trick and his iron was normal at his next visit and he never had constipation. good luck to you!



answers from Boca Raton on

I don't have specific experience with iron levels but I did want to ask if they checked her for lead exposure.

I recently read (can't remember where) that iron and lead compete for the same thing in the body (which is one reason why lead exposure is so bad, especially for children).

Wish I could remember where I saw that . . .

Good luck to you guys.



answers from New York on

Just came across this post. Our three year old also has a level of 12 and wondering what you ended up giving her. Have her levels since increased? Thanks!



answers from Seattle on

Do you think that being anemic is worse than being constipated? Have you ever been anemic? Let me tell you about it. First you are exhausted. You have trouble doing things and thinking things.

Is this what you want for your little girl?

Is this what you want when she is at her most important learning stage? She will never be at this most absorptive learning stage again. Do you really want to handicap her like this because you worry about constipation? There are things that you can do for constipation.

I'm sorry I am so emotional about this but it is important for your child to have the best brain and learning she can have.

Next question: 9 Month Old with Low Iron..... Not Sure About Fer-In-Sol????