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Anemia: Brief Version

What is anemia?

Anemia means that the number of red blood cells in your child's body is below normal. Iron is needed for your child's body to produce red blood cells. Your child needs to eat more foods high in iron.

How can I take care of my child?

If your doctor tells you to give your child iron medicine:

  • Make sure your child has something to eat before taking the medicine. This will help prevent upset stomach. Do not give iron with milk or formula. The iron won't work as well.
  • Then give the iron medicine with orange juice. The juice helps to digest the iron and keeps your child's teeth from getting stained. (If teeth do become stained, brush with baking soda.)
  • Iron can change the color of bowel movements. They may be greenish-black. This is harmless.
  • Too much iron medicine can poison a child. Do not give iron medicine unless the doctor says it is okay. Keep it out of your child's reach.

What are the best foods for iron?

Make sure your child eats plenty of foods rich in iron. Meats, fish, and poultry have the most iron. Other foods high in iron are:

  • Raisins
  • Sweet potatoes
  • Lima beans
  • Kidney beans
  • Pinto beans
  • Green peas
  • Peanut butter
  • Enriched cereals and breads

When should my child see the doctor again?

Your child needs a repeat blood test in 1 or 2 weeks and again in 2 months to make sure your child is getting better.

Written by Barton D. Schmitt, MD, author of “My Child Is Sick,” American Academy of Pediatrics Books.
Pediatric Advisor 2019.4 published by Change Healthcare.
Last modified: 2007-03-23
Last reviewed: 2018-07-13
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2018 Barton D. Schmitt, MD FAAP. All rights reserved.
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