Iron deficiency anemia remains the most common nutritional deficiency in children in the United States. Rapid growth, insufficient dietary intake,and limited absorption of dietary iron combine to place children at increased risk for iron deficiency. Pallor, irritability, fatigue, and tachycardia are common manifestations of moderately severe anemia, but milder degrees may be clinically inapparent.

Evidence is increasing that iron deficiency that progresses to anemia can have significant long-term effects. Infants who have anemia score lower on tests of mental and motor development than those who do not. The severity and duration of anemia correlate with poorer test performance. However, short-term iron therapy or correction of anemia has not been shown to improve test scores. Diminished performance on tests of mental and motor development has been shown in 5-year-old children who suffered anemia as infants. Thus, cognitive deficits as a result of iron deficiency anemia at a critical period of development...

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