Oral administration of simple ferrous salts (e.g., sulfate, gluconate, fumarate) provides inexpensive and satisfactory therapy. No evidence shows that addition of any trace metal, vitamin, or other hematinic substance significantly increases the response to simple ferrous salts. One problem encountered with administration of oral iron to young children is that liquid FeSO4has an unpleasant taste, but sometimes the taste can be camouflaged by mixing with flavored syrup. Other, better-tasting preparations are available over the counter, but these are much more expensive than simple liquid FeSO4. Aside from the unpleasant taste, intolerance to oral iron is uncommon in young children, although older children and adolescents sometimes have gastrointestinal complaints. Problems with constipation can be minimized by increasing water and fiber intake. For some children, abdominal discomfort can be minimized by administering iron with food, recognizing that this may decrease iron absorption to some extent.
The therapeutic dose should be calculated in terms of elemental iron; ferrous sulfate is 20% elemental iron by weight. A daily total dose of 4–6 mg/kg of elemental iron in 3 divided doses