We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.

Advertiser Disclosure

Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.

How We Make Money

We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently from our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is Iron Poisoning?

Tricia Christensen
Updated Mar 03, 2024
Our promise to you
The Health Board is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At The Health Board, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Iron poisoning is an extremely dangerous condition and the leading cause of death among children under six who ingest a toxic substance. Iron poisoning happens when someone ingests an excessive amount of iron. This typically presents when children eat iron supplements, particularly those designed to taste good, like kid’s vitamins. Such bottles are usually easy to open and don’t have a childproof cap. Even when they do, they do not necessarily prevent a child from opening the bottle open. For this reason, it is extremely important to keep all supplements containing iron far out of the reach of children.

Accidental ingestion of iron can be fatal if not treated quickly. Thus, even suspected ingestion of iron should be dealt with as a medical emergency. Do not induce vomiting, but instead take the child to the closest emergency room. Emergency services can be called if personal or public transportation is unavailable. Remember, time is of the essence.

Usually, iron poisoning occurs when a child takes 10 or more milligrams per 2.20 pounds (1 kg) of body weight. Therefore, a child weighing 60 pounds (27.21 kg) could easily suffer iron poisoning by ingesting 300 milligrams of iron. In adult pills, even a single pill, containing about 325 milligrams of iron could easily cause iron poisoning.

At the hospital, doctors watch children for symptoms of iron poisoning, unless they know for certain the child has eaten a large amount of pills. Since iron irritates the stomach, early symptoms can include vomiting or diarrhea that contains blood. Children may also become lethargic.

If iron poisoning is determined or possible, health care professionals may administer a strong laxative to clear iron from the child's stomach. Severe cases may require intravenous (IV) chelation therapy. IV chelation therapy uses the chemical deferoxamine, which binds to iron and causes it to be secreted in urine. In some cases, doctors will pump the stomach through nasal gastric lavage. This is usually done only if the child is treated during the first hour after iron poisoning has occurred.

Children with iron poisoning who show no symptoms after six hours usually recover completely. Those with symptoms may need ongoing observation and treatment for several weeks. In severe cases, iron poisoning can cause liver failure two to five days after the iron was ingested. Several weeks after accidental overdose, iron poisoning may also cause scarring in the intestines.

Attempts to prevent iron poisoning is a far better approach than treating it after the fact. The most obvious cautionary approach is to keep iron away from children. If a child still gets access to iron pills, despite best efforts, then the child and any suspected sources of the iron (e.g., vitamin bottles) should be brought to the hospital. Different forms of iron have different digestion rates. Liquid forms of iron may be particularly harmful since the body doesn’t have to first break down a pill to get to the iron. Bringing the source of the iron poisoning, therefore, can help doctors properly assess and treat the situation.

The Health Board is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Tricia Christensen
By Tricia Christensen , Writer
With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia Christensen is based in Northern California and brings a wealth of knowledge and passion to her writing. Her wide-ranging interests include reading, writing, medicine, art, film, history, politics, ethics, and religion, all of which she incorporates into her informative articles. Tricia is currently working on her first novel.

Discussion Comments

Tricia Christensen

Tricia Christensen


With a Literature degree from Sonoma State University and years of experience as a The Health Board contributor, Tricia...
Learn more
The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

The Health Board, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.