Objective: To determine the prevalence of iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia in children aged 1 to 3 years in an urban population.
Design: Venous blood was measured for levels of hemoglobin, ferritin, free erythrocyte protoporphyrin, and lead in children seen for well-child visits. Children with histories of chronic illness, prematurity, blood dyscrasias, and acute illness were excluded.
Setting: The private practice offices of 4 pediatricians in the New York City area.
Patients: A consecutive sample of 504 children aged 1 to 3 years was included.
Results: More than one third (35%) of the children demonstrated evidence of iron insufficiency; 7% were iron deficient without anemia, and 10% had iron deficiency anemia.
Conclusion: Because the association of iron deficiency anemia with mental and psychomotor impairment during the first 2 years of life no longer seems to be in doubt, the high prevalence of iron deficiency anemia found in the 1- to 2-year-old children in this study is disturbing. This suggests the need for greater efforts at the prevention of iron deficiency during the second year of life.