Wednesday, July 17, 2013

When in doubt... medicate?

Fynn had her twelve month check up a last week at which they did some blood work. Her doctor said he wanted to check her iron levels, which he typically does at 12 months. At that moment I was seriously wishing Drew had been able to come to that appointment. Let me tell you, holding down your baby so some stranger can stick her with a needle and take her blood? Not a fun event.

But I digress. The point of my post was to tell you about the day after that appointment. When I got a call from her doctor's office (yeah, they're quick). The nurse calling told me that Fynn's iron levels were low. She was at 8.4 when the average range is 13-150. She said that I needed to start giving her a daily iron supplement, and that the doctor had already called in the prescription to my pharmacy.

This pissed me off for several different reasons. 1) I didn't even talk to my doctor about options for improving her iron levels, he just immediately went to medicating. Heck, we hadn't even talked about what low iron levels mean for a baby this age 2) This woman just assumed I'd be all okay with this and blindly acquiesce with the recommendation. Since I don't like to do things just because someone said so, I questioned it. I asked the nurse whether it may be a more practical option to focus on giving Fynn more iron-rich foods rather then a supplement since food-based iron is absorbed a lot better than supplements without the potential side effects. It seemed like a no-brainer to me, but this woman was taken aback and said she'd have to check with the doctor to see if that was okay.

We got off the phone. And I laughed. Yes, I'm worried about the health of my child. If her iron levels are low, then we need to fix that and I'm willing to do whatever it take to make her healthy. BUT, I know in my heart that the simple solution of writing a prescription doesn't really solve the problem. Why not start showing her how important a well-balanced diet is and how beneficial it is to your overall health. Obvious she's too young to understand that right now, but I still think it's way more important to eat right then just take a vitamin to make up for crappy eating. Yeah, we don't always eat great around here, but we know how important it is and we try our best.

Why this long and rambling update/rant? Because I'm annoyed that my doctor's first and only solution to a low iron level in a one year old baby was to start a medication. Why? Why not look at other, less intrusive ways to fix a relatively minor problem? While I've loved her doctor up to this point, and really didn't think he was one to immediately push meds, this has changed my view of him. I'm obviously not an all-natural, granola mom... but this mindset that the only way to fix things is through medication just seems so foolish to me. 

In case you couldn't tell, we are NOT going to give Fynn an iron supplement. After more research and though, I'm even more against it. We are going to focus on giving her more foods rich in iron and see whether that makes a difference. They want to check her iron levels again in three months, at which point we'll see if our way is working. If so, awesome, we'll keep going with that. If it's not working despite our best efforts then, and only then, will we look into iron supplements. I've gotten a list from the doctor and googled the heck out of "iron-rich foods" and "feeding iron-deficient toddlers"... but any suggestions of foods we could try? Fynn's a good eater, but meats are hit or miss and those are often the best sources of iron.

1 comment:

  1. Aw that's terrible. My dad is a pediatrician, he would never medicate without talking to the mom. You don't want to make your child dependent on medication at a young age and then they have to take it the rest of their lives. Definitely try a diet change first! Pureed spinach? I think you can puree spinach with anything and not really taste it, it just turns green.
    (Let it be noted, I have low iron levels, not from diet but because my body isn't storing it properly, so I have to take the pills. They're horrid.)


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