[Iron deficiency in children: which is the correct therapy?].Pediatr Med Chir. 1991 Mar-Apr; 13(2):149-53.PM
Iron is essential for human metabolism. Under normal circumstances its homeostasis is strictly kept by absorption and excretion through genitourinary, gastrointestinal tracts and skin losses. In several systemic disorders, dietary iron is insufficient to keep such a dynamic balance: development of iron deficiency may be due to increased requirements, decreased intestinal absorption, inadequate dietary uptake. Low birth weight newborns, children and adolescents are at increased risk for developing iron deficiency. Although clinical aspects may vary, hematochemical findings show a three-step gradual progression. In a first step iron deficiency is diagnosed by serum ferritin level which will be under 10-20/micrograms/ml showing a depletion of total body iron stores. In a second step progressing iron deficiency will be assessed by lowered serum iron and increased unsaturated serum transferrin, serum iron bound to transferrin and erythrocyte protoporphyrin IX. Scanty clinical signs are still available. In a third step while clinical findings show a complete features of iron deficiency anemia (weakness, fatigue, palpitations, etc.), laboratory findings show morphologic alterations in red cells (hypochromia and microcytemia), together with the aforementioned disorders in ferrokinetics. Iron deficiency anemia responds very effectively to treatment due a correct etiological diagnosis, crucial to a through therapy tending to first eliminating the causes of it. Prophylaxis against iron deficiency anemia is required in prematurely born and low birth weight infants because of doubled iron requirements. After the second month of life diet is supplemented with 2-4 mg/kg/die of ferrous iron orally along the first year of life.