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Iron Supplement Side Effects in Children

By Rae Uddin

An essential nutrient, iron helps transport oxygen from the lungs to cells, tissues and organs. This mineral is also helps generate adenosine triphosphate, the primary energy source in the human body. The recommended dietary allowance for children varies between 7 and 11 milligrams of iron per day, depending upon the child's age and gender. If your child's pediatrician recommends treatment with an iron supplement, talk with her about the side effects of this supplement in children before initiating treatment. Never give your child supplements containing iron without first consulting a doctor.


Children receiving treatment with iron supplements may experience constipation as a side effect. Constipation, or infrequent, difficult bowel movements, may be accompanied by abdominal cramping, bloating or loss of appetite. You may notice that your child spends longer than usual in the bathroom, but it unable to produce a bowel movement. Your child's stools may also appear unusually small or solid or her abdomen may be sensitive to the touch. Seek additional care from your child's pediatrician if constipation persists for more than two to three days.

Stomach Discomfort

Iron supplements may irritate the lining of your child's digestive tract. Consequently, she may experience nausea, stomach pain or vomiting. Stomach discomfort may also result in a temporary decrease in your child's normal appetite. Always contact your child's doctor if vomiting occurs or stomach pain persists, because these side effects of iron supplements may also be signs of alternate health problems, such as appendicitis.

Tooth Discoloration

The use of liquid forms of iron may cause temporary tooth discoloration in children. Your child's teeth may appear dark or black in color. Though this side effect typically subsides after treatment with liquid iron supplements ends, consult your child's doctor if her teeth remain discolored.

Flulike Side Effects

Intravenous or IV administration of an iron supplement may cause flulike side effects in children. Your child may develop a fever, headache or swollen lymph glands. She may also complain that she doesn't feel well due to aching joints or muscles. Infrequently, IV iron treatment may cause a life-threatening allergic reaction called anaphylaxis. Anaphylaxis symptoms require immediate medical attention and include hives, facial swelling, shortness of breath, wheezing, weakness and difficulty swallowing.

Acute Toxicity

Acute iron toxicity is the leading cause of poison-related death in children under the age of 5. Children who take too much iron in a single dose or over the course of a few days may exhibit acute iron toxicity symptoms. Iron poisoning may cause sudden and potentially fatal symptoms, including vomiting blood, severe stomach cramping, fever, low blood pressure, seizures, breathing difficulties and heart rate irregularities. If your child exhibits any of these acute toxicity symptoms, seek emergency medical care immediately.

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