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Anemia and how to preventMy doctor recently told me that my eight-month-old boy is anemic and in need of iron. I am afraid to give the iron because his stools become dark.

Doctor’s Advice:

Anemia at eight months of age is most commonly due to excess of milk in the diet with too few vegetables, fruits, and eggs, which contain iron. When anemia is caused by inadequate iron in the diet, it is well to cut down the milk intake significantly so that the child will be hungry enough to eat foods that provide iron.

When iron drops are given to a baby of this age, it is not unusual to find that the stools become dark and occasionally almost black. The dark color of the stool is no indication that the child is being harmed. Frequently the physician will increase the iron until the color of the stool is changed, to make certain that the dose is large enough to correct any iron deficiency. In general, iron will need to be given for several months to obtain the best results.

Occasionally a baby is not able to tolerate iron drops because of upset stomach or other reaction. When this happens, the kind of iron may need to be changed.

There are other conditions that may produce anemia in the young child, but your physician will do tests that will tell whether they are present.


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