Iron deficiency anemia may cause depression in kids

The link between anxiety disorders and iron deficiency in kids is rarely investigated.

Iron-deficiency anemia (IDA) is not new to us. It has long been the focus of many discussions regarding women's health and pregnancy.

IDA occurs in almost 40% of our female population, making it the most common women's disease. Anemia or low red blood cell count is frequently due to abnormal menstruation and childbirth.

But when IDA strikes children, the effects are disturbing.

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Iron important in brain development

In a paramount study by Dr. Ya-Mei Bai from the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, he reveals that children and adolescents that have IDA are at increased risk of depression, anxiety disorders and autism.

Iron has in important role in brain development. This is why women are encouraged to take prenatal vitamins during their 9-month pregnancy period.

But the new data stresses the need to continue iron supplementation outside the womb.

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Onset of psychiatric disorders

"There is well-documented evidence in the literature that IDA has a significant influence on cognitive development, intelligence, and developmental delay,” according to Dr. Mu-Hong Chen, the original author of this journal.

“However, the association between IDA and childhood/adolescence-onset psychiatric disorders is rarely investigated," he added.

More studies need to be conducted to prove Dr. Chen's hypothesis.

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Iron kids

In the meantime, it would not hurt to make sure that our children and teenagers get the right amount of iron daily.

Foods rich in iron which your children can eat are lean beef and pork, the dark meat from chicken, sardines, crab, shrimp, salmon and tuna.

If your kids eat vegetables, which is rare, try dark green leafy vegetables, like lettuce, broccoli and spinach. Baked potatoes with the skin are another source. Beans, like monggo or red kidney beans, have high iron content, too.

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If all else fails, chose a vitamin supplement with the following iron content to make sure your kids get the needed amount of iron daily:

For children between the ages of 1 and 12, they need 11mg a day, adolescent boys need 12mg and adolescent girls need 15mg.

Depression, autism and the other psychiatric disorders were thought to be inborn. Now, more and more information is surfacing that suggest that these diseases may be preventable with the right kind of food and lifestyle.

Do you have a health question for Dr. Diana Sarmiento? Write it down in the Comments section below. Your question may be answered in a forthcoming regular post entitled, “Ask Dr. D.”

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