Iron Supplements can be Harmful to Children

/ March 24th, 2011/ Posted in Health / Comments Off on Iron Supplements can be Harmful to Children

HealthGate – They may look like candy, but the results aren’t so sweet. Iron pill overdoses are the leading cause of accidental poisonings in kids under age six.

Over the past decade, there have been more than 110,000 cases of children ingesting too many iron pills or capsules, which has led to 35 deaths. To counter these incidents, the Food and Drug Administration recently announced that all products with at least 30 milligrams (mg) of iron must be have special packaging and be clearly marked with warning labels.

“Even one child poisoning is too many, particularly if it can be prevented,” said FDA Commissioner David A. Kessler, M.D. in an agency press release. “Parents, caregivers, and grandparents the children may visit need to know that iron-containing products can be toxic in large doses, and even fatal, if swallowed by a small child.”

After July 15, 1997, iron products must be packaged in blister packs. These packs keep the pills separate, which makes it harder for a child to obtain many pills at a time. While containers with child-proof covers already exist, some of the poisoning cases found that children were able to reach the containers because they were open or loosely capped.

Parents needed worry that their children are eating too much iron; it is highly unlikely for a child to overdose from a diet high in iron. Additionally, the iron found in supplements is more concentrated than that found in food. Adequate amounts of iron in the body ensure that oxygen moves easily from the lungs to the body’s cells. A lack of iron can cause weakness, fatigue, headaches, apathy and paleness.

Iron pills can be prescribed for pregnant women to ensure proper fetal development, and for women who are simply not eating enough iron regularly. Women between ages 11 and 50 should consume 15 mg of iron daily; pregnant women need 30 mg. Men and post-menopausal women should ingest 10 mg.

In comparison, a child aged six months to four years needs only 10 mg. of iron. Children suffering from overdoses consumed between five and 98 iron pills; death occurred after ingesting 200-5,850 mg of iron.

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