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Iron Poisoning

Self-Care at Home

If you suspect your child has accidentally swallowed iron tablets, call your doctor or poison control center immediately. You can locate your regional poison control center phone number before an emergency by checking the Web site of the American Association of Poison Control Centers.

  • Do not attempt to induce vomiting, either manually or with syrup of ipecac. This will make it more difficult to assess whether your child is truly iron toxic.
  • Bring the medicine containers along with you to the hospital.

Next Steps Prevention

  • Keep medications where children cannot get to them.
  • Childproof caps are not a guarantee that children are safe.
  • Educate your children that unknown pills are not candy and can be harmful.


Full recovery is likely for children (or adults) who show no symptoms for at least 6 hours after swallowing pills. Those with symptoms may be ill and require more aggressive treatment.

  • Iron poisoning can progress through several stages. A late, or hepatic stage, develops 2-5 days after ingestion. The person may have elevated liver enzymes, possibly resulting in liver failure.
  • Another late stage involves gastrointestinal scarring. Some 4-6 weeks after ingestion, the final stage manifests with early satiety (fullness after eating) or nausea from GI scarring and obstruction.

Synonyms and Keywords

iron poisoning, poisoning, vitamin poisoning, iron-containing pills, vitamins with iron, poison proofing

WebMD Medical Reference from eMedicineHealth

Reviewed by David T. Derrer, MD on April 26, 2014
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