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March 1979

The Nonhematologic Manifestations of Iron Deficiency

Author Affiliations

From the Department of Pediatrics, State University of New York, Upstate Medical Center, Syracuse, NY.

Am J Dis Child. 1979;133(3):315-322. doi:10.1001/archpedi.1979.02130030091017

Question: What disorder can produce apathy, irritability, anorexia, decreased exercise tolerance, and a craving for ice?

Answer: Iron deficiency.

Question: What disorder can produce angular stomatitis, glossitis, "spoon nails," and the excretion of a pink urine after the ingestion of beets?

Answer: Iron deficiency.

Question: What disorder can produce gastric achlorhydria, evidence of small bowel dysfunction, occult gastrointestinal bleeding, and failure to thrive?

Answer: Iron deficiency.

In the days of the Roman empire, medicinal iron was purported to produce "great effectes and marvelous works," as reported by Nicholas Monarde,1 a 16th century physician of Seville, Spain. Evidence exists that, even prior to that time, iron was employed for a variety of purposes in the major civilizations of the Mediterranean area and Asia.

Today we tend to equate iron deficiency with anemia. Because iron deficiency anemia is easy to recognize and easy to treat, we have tended to overlook the

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