How do you picture a child with low iron levels? You probably imagined a child who is pale and tired. Not a hyperactive child bouncing off the walls having a difficult time sleeping at night.
Well, think again. Recent studies have revealed a link between childhood hyperactivity and sleep disturbances with low serum ferritin levels.
What in the world is ferritin? Ferritin is a protein found inside cells. It binds to iron and stores it until the body needs to use it. Measuring ferritin levels is more helpful than measuring iron levels because ferritin levels can be low before symptoms of low iron occur. According to the World Health Organization, a ferritin concentration of less than 30ng/mL in children under 5 years old indicates depleted iron storage.*
Several studies have indicated that children with serum ferritin levels below 45 ng/mL had more disturbed sleep than children with higher levels.*
Is your child suffering from disturbed sleep?
Are they very active during the day?
Are their legs restless and do they wiggle in their bed at night?
Are they picky about what they eat?
These symptoms could indicate low ferritin levels. Chronically disrupted sleep accumulates as sleep debt. Lack of sleep isn’t just a pain in the neck for tired parents. It can also lead to problems with your child’s cognitive functioning and behaviors.
The ferritin blood test is a simple blood draw that can be ordered by your pediatrician. If you are concerned that low iron may be effecting your child’s sleep, talk to your pediatrician right away. This test could be the simple solution to your child’s sleep challenges.
*Resources: Cortese S, et al. European & Adolescent Child Psychiatry. 2009