Minimum Ingested Iron Cut-Off Triggering Serious Iron Toxicity in Children

Pediatr Int. 2019 May;61(5):444-448. doi: 10.1111/ped.13834.


Background: Iron intoxication can occur accidentally in children or intentionally by adolescents as a suicide attempt. They usually present with various symptoms including vomiting and diarrhea. Clinical studies in this field has been reported different doses of ingested elemental iron that caused serious toxicity, but none of these studies determined the minimum cut-off of ingested iron that triggered the risk of severe toxicity. The aim of this study was therefore to investigate the demographic features of iron intoxication in Turkish children and to determine the lowest cut-off of ingested elemental iron triggering serious intoxication and the need for prompt management.

Methods: This retrospective study investigated 83 Turkish patients with accidental and intentional iron poisoning.

Results: Of the 83 cases of acute iron intoxication, accidental iron consumption was more common than intentional use. Fifty-three patients ingested a median toxic dose of elemental iron of 40.0 mg/kg (IQR, 33.5 mg/kg). The median serum iron concentration in the first 6 h of ingestion was 150 μg/dL (IQR, 282 μg/dL). Twenty patients were given deferoxamine, whereas 63 patients were given supportive treatment.

Conclusion: The cut-off of ingested elemental iron that triggered serious toxicity and the need for deferoxamine in children <18 years of age was 28 mg/kg.

Keywords: children; cut-off; iron; poisoning.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Deferoxamine / therapeutic use
  • Eating*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iron / administration & dosage*
  • Iron / blood
  • Iron / poisoning*
  • Male
  • Poisoning / blood
  • Poisoning / diagnosis*
  • Poisoning / drug therapy
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Siderophores / therapeutic use
  • Trace Elements / administration & dosage*
  • Trace Elements / blood
  • Trace Elements / poisoning*
  • Turkey


  • Siderophores
  • Trace Elements
  • Iron
  • Deferoxamine