We have discussed iron preparations for adults in earlier articles;1 much of the information applies equally to children. Iron is not a ‘tonic’ and should be given only to prevent or correct iron deficiency. Estimation of the haemoglobin and inspection of a blood smear are the minimum investigations necessary before iron is prescribed in therapy. When deficiency is suspected in the absence of hypochromic anaemia, plasma iron and iron-binding capacity should be estimated and/or the bone marrow examined for haemosiderin crystals which disappear when iron stores are depleted.
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