Terrible twos: intravenous iron ameliorates a toddler's iron deficiency and sleep disturbance

J Clin Sleep Med. 2022 Feb 1;18(2):677-680. doi: 10.5664/jcsm.9690.


The relation between iron deficiency and restless legs syndrome has been widely described and investigated in both adults and children. However, the diagnosis of restless legs syndrome relies on patients voicing their symptoms, which is very difficult for patients younger than age 5 years. Frequently, we evaluate children between ages 2 and 4 years whom parents describe as "restless sleepers," "difficult to settle down," or having "frequent awakening" or "bedtime resistance." Parents are concerned that their child's poor sleep quality is leading to daytime dysfunction such as increased sleepiness, behavioral outbursts, or hyperactivity. Many of these children are diagnosed with behavioral insomnia of childhood, and behavior modification therapy is recommended with variable degrees of success. Herein, we describe a 2-year-old with similar symptoms of restless sleep, bedtime resistance, and daytime sleepiness who was found to have an underlying iron deficiency without anemia that was treated successfully with iron infusion. We highlight the importance of evaluating for underlying iron deficiency even without anemia in patients with restless sleep and associated poor daytime behavior. We also describe some common challenges associated with iron therapy and clarify iron therapeutic targets.

Citation: Al-Shawwa B, Sharma M, Ingram DG. Terrible twos: intravenous iron ameliorates a toddler's iron deficiency and sleep disturbance. J Clin Sleep Med. 2022;18(2):677-680.

Keywords: children; ferritin; intravenous iron; iron deficiency; restless legs syndrome.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Child, Preschool
  • Humans
  • Iron / therapeutic use
  • Iron Deficiencies*
  • Restless Legs Syndrome* / complications
  • Restless Legs Syndrome* / diagnosis
  • Restless Legs Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Sleep
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders* / complications


  • Iron