Iron Out of Balance™ is any condition where iron is not in a healthy range for age, gender, or ethnicity. Our books Guide to Anemia and Guide to Hemochromatosis are written for families, caregivers, and clinicians. These books more fully describe the types of iron disorders in individuals. The Iron Disorders Institute website also contains information about these conditions, therapies to reduce or replenish iron and diet suggestions to consider.
In its publications, Iron Disorders Institute currently concentrates on these key areas of iron imbalance: hemochromatosis (adult-onset, juvenile), iron overload (non-white siderosis and transfusion-related,) anemia of chronic disease (also called anemia of inflammatory response), iron deficiency with and without anemia, dysmetabolic iron overload syndrome (DIOS), and iron avidity.
Sickle cell anemia, thalassemia, polycythemia, myelodysplasia, and leukemia are better categorized as diseases or disorders of the blood-forming organs (hemoglobin and bone marrow.) Although iron deficiency is commonly seen in these conditions, management is more complex and may not include approaches similar to the ones suggested by our medical advisors for the more common iron disorders addressed by the Iron Disorders Institute.
Preventing or correcting Iron-Out-of-Balance™ in various populations:
Newborns, Infants, and toddlers: We encourage breastfeeding for the first six months because mother’s milk contains the type of iron most easily absorbed by an newborn/infant and this milk contains the natural iron binding and anti-bacterial protein lactoferrin, which protects against harmful invaders, such as bacteria.
In cases where a mother cannot or chooses not to breastfeed, we encourage the use of low iron formulas to reduce the risk of gastric upset (cramping, constipation.) At about six months the diet and nutrition needs change; cereals and meat can be introduced. Supplementing with mother’s milk, goat’s milk, or unsweetened almond milk (that does not contain soy) are better choices than cow’s milk. For a toddler the consumption cow’s milk can lead to iron deficiency due to intestinal blood loss.
Neonatal hemochromatosis (NH) is a clinical condition in which severe liver disease in the newborn can be fatal due to liver failure. Gestational alloimmune liver disease (GALD) has been established as the cause of fetal liver injury resulting in nearly all cases of NH. Feldman AG, Whitington PF. Neonatal hemochromatosis. Journal of Clinical Experimental Hepatology. 2013;3(4):313‐320. doi:10.1016/j.jceh.2013.10.004
Juveniles: In this population iron deficiency with and without anemia and juvenile hemochromatosis (iron overload) are possible. For girls one early sign for iron overload include the lack of a menstrual cycle (unless she is on birth control pills.) For boys one early sign or iron overload is hypogonadism (small testicles.)
Females of childbearing age: In this population iron deficiency with and without anemia are most common. Females who no longer menstruate are at risk for hemochromatosis (iron overload.)
Males: Adult males are most at risk for iron overload. Iron deficiency in otherwise healthy adult males is uncommon and when seen celiac disease ought to be considered. When iron overload occurs generally phlebotomy (blood donation) is well tolerated.
Elderly: iron deficiency with and without anemia and anemia of inflammatory response are most common in this population. Iron overload is rare in the elderly but can occur. A very good way to distinguish between these three iron disorders is the measure serum ferritin (SF.)
THE DANGERS OF MISDIAGNOSIS
Gerry Koenig’s Story required 2 liver transplants due to misdiagnosis.