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Iron supplements may benefit those with anemia

Category: Blood and Blood Diseases

Giving iron supplements to children with anemia may be able to significantly boost their health, according to researchers from the University of Melbourne, Australia. Children who received these supplements had higher cognitive scores on tests as well as improved bodyweight.

Tracking iron and anemia
The study, published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, found that children improved mentally and physically when given daily iron supplements. When given daily doses of iron, rates of anemia fell by about 50 percent. Iron deficiency rates fell by nearly 80 percent in study participants as well.

The investigators examined research from more than 7,000 children in low- and middle-income countries around the world. The results showed significant benefits for children who had been diagnosed through blood tests and other lab tests. The supplements were found to improve IQ scores and performance on other cognitive tests.

"Routine daily iron supplementation is likely to benefit cognitive performance in primary school children in developing settings where anemia is prevalent and testing hemoglobin before iron supplementation may not be feasible," said Sant-Rayn Pasricha, M.D., of the Royal Melbourne Hospital Faculty of Medicine, Dentistry and Health Sciences.

Some controversy remains around iron supplements in children, which can cause diarrhea, constipation and other gastrointestinal issues. These supplements can also cause a feeling of nausea, according to Medical News Daily.

What is anemia?
Anemia is a condition that is caused by a lack of red blood cells. This causes a deficiency of oxygen in many essential tissues, which makes those diagnosed with the disease often feel exhausted, according to the Mayo Clinic. Those with this disease may have pale skin, chest pain, dizziness, cold hands and feet as well as cognitive problems. A lab test online can show whether the disease is present.

Anemia can be a temporary problem in many people, often caused by lack of blood or poor diet. Treatment often consists of eating more iron-rich foods and taking supplements. Millions of people around the world have this condition, including large percentages of children in developing countries and even many in the U.S. Seeking a lab test can show whether or not this deficiency is present and allow for treatments to begin, which can make those diagnosed with anemia feel more energetic and aware.

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