Screening for Iron Deficiency Anemia

The U.S. Preventive Service Task Force currently has found insufficient evidence to recommend for or against routine screening asymptomatic infants age 6 to 12 months for iron deficiency anemia (USPSTF, 2006). Venous hemoglobin is more accurate than capillary hemoglobin for detecting anemia; however, true iron deficiency is much more common than iron deficiency anemia. In addition, there is evidence that even children with severe anemia who are treated with iron supplementation continue to demonstrate behavioral and developmental deficits 10 years afterwards (Lozoff et al., 2000). Nevertheless, the AAP Committee on Nutrition presents two options for screening for iron deficiency anemia. If a community has a significant level of iron deficiency anemia or infants who are at risk by virtue of their diet, universal screening is recommended for all full-term infants between 9 and 12 months old, with a second screening 6 months later at 15 to 18 months old. Selective screening may be done on a similar schedule only for children deemed to be at risk for iron deficiency anemia, including low-birth-weight infants, infants not receiving iron-containing formula, or breastfed infants over 6 months old who lack adequate iron in their diet.

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