child screening programme

Iron deficiency anaemia

This recommendation has been archived and is no longer regularly reviewed by the UK NSC.

Anaemia is a condition that occurs when there is a lack of red blood cells in the body. There are several types of anaemia and the most common is known as iron deficiency anaemia. This is where the body lacks enough iron to keep the red blood cells functioning properly. In children, it is usually due to eating a diet that has too little iron in it.

Read more about iron deficiency anaemia on the NHS website.

A national screening programme for Iron Deficiency Anaemia (IDA) in Children under 5 Years of Age is not recommended. This is because:

  • there is a lack of evidence that low levels of iron in the blood causes children under the age of 5 to develop at a slower rate than expected
  • the current screening test involves taking a blood sample. This can be distressing for the child
  • some children can have IDA without being ill. The benefit of treating these children is unclear

In the absence of screening, the most important factor should continue to be preventing children from developing Iron Deficiency Anaemia by providing good dietary advice.

After reviewing the evidence for population screening for iron deficiency anaemia in children on several occasions, the UK NSC did not find enough published information to support a recommendation for screening. The UK NSC recommended not to do another routine evidence review and to archive this topic.

The UK NSC will reopen this topic if new evidence becomes available that is likely to have a significant effect on the recommendation. Stakeholders can also submit an annual call proposal for the UK NSC to reopen this topic if new evidence becomes available.