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Iron Poisoning (cont.)

Iron Poisoning in Children Causes

  • Iron pills, especially children's multivitamin tablets, can look like candy to children.
  • Intentional overdose can occur among adults, but is rare.

Iron Poisoning in Children Symptoms

Symptoms of iron poisoning usually become evident within 6 hours after an excessive amount of iron is swallowed.

Iron corrodes the intestinal lining and is a direct irritant to the stomach.

People with iron poisoning can have the following symptoms:

A child's vomit or stool may be bloody.

  • Often, after supportive care, the gastrointestinal symptoms appear to improve 6-24 hours after their onset.
  • If profound poisoning is inadequately treated, shock and death can occur.

The amount of iron ingested may give a clue to potential toxicity. The therapeutic dose for iron deficiency anemia is 3-6 mg/kg/day. Toxic effects begin to occur at doses above 10-20 mg/kg of elemental iron. Ingestions of more than 50 mg/kg of elemental iron are associated with severe toxicity.

  • A 325-mg tablet of ferrous sulfate has 65 mg (20%) of elemental iron
  • A 325-mg tablet of ferrous gluconate has 39 mg (12%) of elemental iron
  • A 325-mg tablet of ferrous fumarate has 107.25 mg (33%) of elemental iron

When to Seek Medical Care for Iron Poisoning

Call a doctor, local poison control center, or go directly to the closest hospital's emergency department if you suspect a child has swallowed iron-containing vitamins, even if the child shows no symptoms. Bring the container that lists the strengths with you.

If you find a child among iron pills or pill containers, or a child tells you he or she has swallowed pills, take the child to a hospital's emergency department because symptoms may not have had time to develop.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 4/21/2016
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