January 25, 2000
Question from Maine, USA:
My 4 1/2 year old was diagnosed with type 1 two years ago, and she recently had an iron test done for her pre-school. The results were that she has low iron and low red blood cells. Does this have anything to do with her diabetes? She eats really well, including red meat and vegetables that help increase iron. Her blood sugars are hard to keep under control though.
I doubt that a low hemoglobin level would effect control of blood glucoses, although it may affect the test results of your home blood glucose monitor, thus resulting in a reading that is not correct. Usually the iron levels would have to be quite low to be read incorrectly by the monitor, but you might wish to check this out with your diabetes team.
You are giving her the good sources of iron, but perhaps a multi-vitamin/mineral tablet would be of use. Please check with your health care team. We do not usually recommend individual supplements, as iron pills, but oftentimes a multiple vitamin pill (generic is fine and cheaper) works great.
Additional comments from Dr. John Schulga:
My thought about this is whether it would be worth checking your child out for coeliac disease, which is associated with diabetes and can cause a low iron and red blood cells due to a problem with the gut absorbing iron. It would be worth mentioning this to your diabetes team.