Iron Deficiency Anemia

What is iron deficiency anemia?

Iron deficiency anemia is a common blood disorder that occurs when red blood cell counts are low due to low levels of iron. Red blood cells use iron to produce a protein called hemoglobin, which is needed to carry oxygen from the lungs to all the parts of the body. Iron deficiency is the most common cause of anemia in children in the U.S.

  • Iron deficiency anemia is usually discovered through a blood test during a routine medical examination.
  • Mild iron deficiency anemia can be treated by consuming an iron-rich diet or taking oral iron supplements. Severe iron deficiency may be treated with intravenous (IV) iron or even blood transfusion.
  • In children with a rare, inherited version of iron deficiency anemia — iron-refractory iron deficiency anemia (IRIDA) — the child is born with a gene mutation that causes iron deficiency.

How Dana-Farber/Boston Children's treats pediatric anemia

Children and young adults with iron deficiency anemia are treated through Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric hematology and oncology partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children's Hospital.

Our joint Blood Disorders Center brings together world-renown pediatric hematology specialists and support staff from across Dana-Farber/Boston Children's, including pediatric hematologist/oncologists, hematopathologists, hematology nurse practitioners, social workers and designated hematology patient coordinators. For many appointments and certain procedures, your child can also receive care at one of Boston Children's satellite offices.

Find in-depth information on iron deficiency anemia on the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's website, including details on anemia symptoms, causes, diagnosis, treatment and research.