Researchers: Iron deficiency common in U.S.
Toddlers, poor especially at risk
March 26, 1997
Web posted at: 6:18 p.m. EST (2318 GMT)
From Correspondent Eugenia Halsey
(CNN) -- Got iron-poor blood? A new study suggests millions
of Americans do, especially poor toddlers, teen-age girls and
A survey of 25,000 Americans reported in the Journal of the
American Medical Association shows that iron deficiency
remains a serious problem among toddlers, especially those
from minority or low-income families.
About 9 percent, or 700,000 toddlers, are iron deficient,
according to the report. The numbers have changed little
from a decade ago.
Iron deficiency also remains a problem for adolescent girls
and women of childbearing age. About 10 percent of them, or
roughly 8 million, have too little iron.
Iron deficiency, combined with low levels
of hemoglobin, can cause anemia, harm the functioning of the
immune system, slow down cognitive development and damage the
body's ability to regulate temperature and energy metabolism.
"In women who are pregnant, it may make it more likely to
have premature babies or have low birth weight babies,"
said Anne Looker of the National Center for Health
Statistics. "And in everyone, you can have less energy, you
may be more tired and irritable, perhaps feel cold."
The study found only 1 percent of teen-age boys and young men
had too little iron.
Although iron deficiency remains a concern, the researchers
think one reason it's not as big a problem as it was 20 to 30
years ago in young children is because babies are being fed
fortified formula and cereal.
There's still plenty of room for improvement, though, in the
diets of toddlers from poor families.
"These children are probably not getting adequate meat in
their diet. Meat is more expensive," said Dr. Bill Zepf of
the Providence/Georgetown Hospital.
Other iron-deficient toddlers are simply picky eaters, he
"They go on these little food jags; the only thing they eat
is Jell-O and ice cream for three weeks."
Foods rich in iron include lean meat, spinach, broccoli,
bread, cereal, rice and noodles.
Related sites:Note: Pages will open in a new browser window
External sites are not endorsed by CNN Interactive.
© 1997 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.