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Pediatrics/Low Iron Blood Levels in 5 yr old.


My son frequently gets sick with various colds, viruses etc. He just started school this year, so; his pediatrician says that his system has been bombarded with germs that it is not used to defending. He had been sick four times in a period of three months, and; they ordered blood tests to check a full range of things. His hemoglobin came back at 11 and his iron came back at 26. They said his vitamin D is also low, and; all other levels were normal. He takes  a daily multivitamin with iron, but; his diet is poor as he is very picky and refuses many foods. I am going to create ways to get him to eat red meat by making dishes that disguise it, but; what else can I do. Also,do you feel that he should be further tested for anything since his hemoglobin is normal but iron is so low? Is that typical for children with poor diets?  Would you suggest an iron supplement? Thank you in advance.

Hi, Beth,

Serum iron levels are at best a guess of iron stores.  I usually do a test called a serum ferritin, which is a better measure, most of us think, of iron stores.  It is probably a mute point, for he is mildly anemic with low iron.  Why not use an iron supplement?  I can't think of any reason not to, as well as a vitamin D supplement.  

However, I think it is doubtful that these changes will substantially change his ability to get the virus infections that surround him.  Try the supplements for 6 months or so and then have the labs repeated.  It certainly is better not to be anemic, for a number of reasons, and to have normal vitamin D levels, but I wouldn't expect a big change in the rate of minor viral illnesses.  The hemoglobin of 11 is borderline low for someone his age and without replenishing iron stores, it probably will get lower.

Good luck, Dr. Olson


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David Olson, MD


I would be happy to attempt to answer any questions about general pediatric topics, either medical issues or behavioral issues. This would include all the various questions one receives in a busy pediatric practice. I`m a board certified pediatrician in northern Michigan and have been in practice for over 15 years. I enjoy the teaching role I have in our practice and would enjoy the opportunity to help others with their pediatric problems.

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