Feature Article

Iron deficiency anaemia in children: a practical guide for management



© shaunl/istockphoto.com model used for illustrative puroses only
© shaunl/istockphoto.com model used for illustrative puroses only


This practical guide outlines an approach for the diagnosis, treatment and follow-up of children with iron deficiency anaemia, a common clinical problem seen by GPs and paediatricians.

Key Points

  • Iron deficiency anaemia in children is common and is most prevalent among toddlers and preschoolers.
  • Dietary deficiency is the most common cause; a small number of patients will need investigations for other causes.
  • Serum iron must not be used to assess iron stores; ferritin provides the most useful information about iron stores.
  • Oral iron therapy is the most appropriate treatment for most patients; intravenous iron is indicated for a select few.
  • The rate of haematological response is similar for oral and intravenous iron.
  • Intravenous iron is not appropriate for iron deficiency without anaemia.
  • Most children with iron deficiency anaemia do not need tertiary haematology care, and can be managed confidently by their GP or paediatrician.