Anemia in Children: Types, Causes & Treatment by Dr. Stalin Ramprakash

6 min read

By Dr. Stalin Ramprakash, MBBS, MD, MRCPCH, CCT, FRCPCH
Consultant - Paediatric Haematology, Oncology and BMT, Aster CMI Hospital
21 years of experience

Anemia

Anemia in children occurs when the required amount of red blood cells in the body gets reduced and is below what is considered normal numbers for your child’s age. Anemia is frequently a symptom of a disease rather than being a disease itself. If your kid contracts Anemia, they will more often than not appear pale. The child also tends to become grumpy, and often feels tired, or powerless.

Even if these symptoms appear to concern you, the most common causes of anemia*such as iron deficiency*can usually be treated easily, especially if it is discovered early on. Moreover, parents should know what steps to take to prevent this condition. Read on to know everything about anemia in children.

In This Article

What is Anemia in Children?

The term anemia refers to a low level of hemoglobin (Hb) in the blood. This condition is quite common in children. According to studies, over 70 % of children in India contract anemia at some point in their lives. If a child has anemia, he or she doesn’t have enough red blood cells or hemoglobin.

An oxygen-carrying protein, hemoglobin is a component of red blood cells. The muscles and organs of your child require oxygen to thrive. As a result, a decreased number of red blood cells can place stress on the body.

Children who are deficient in it can suffer from a wide range of minor and major health complications. As you’ll learn in the latter part of this article, there are 6 types of anemia in children.

Causes of Anemia in Children

Anemia in children can be caused by three main reasons:

1. Loss of RBCs

As in loss of blood during an accident, heavy menstrual bleeding, small repeated blood loss from the gut, etc.

2. Failure to Make Sufficient RBCs

This can occur if your child does not have sufficient iron or other vital nutrients like vitamin C in his/her eating regimen. Or there could be some serious underlying problem in the bone marrow, which is the factory that makes the red cells.

3. Destruction of RBCs

This sort of anemia happens if the red cells that are made in your kid’s body are broken down rapidly due to defective red cells being made, or some illness is making the normal blood cells that were made to be destroyed very fast.

What are the Symptoms of Anemia in Children?

kid having headache

Some common anemia symptoms in children comprise of:

  • Easy weariness and lack of energy
  • Unusually quick heartbeat, especially while doing any activity
  • Difficulty in breathing and headache, especially while working out
  • Unable to perform the physical task which they were able to do in the past without any problem.
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Feeling like you’ll faint
  • Paleness
  • Cramps in legs
  • Sleeplessness

Types of Anemia in Children

Following are six types of anemia found in children

1. Iron Deficiency Anemia

This happens when the concentration of iron in the blood is very low.

2. Megaloblastic Anemia

If the nutrient B-12 or folic acid is absent in the body.

3. Hemolytic Anemia

This happens when RBCs in the blood are destroyed.

4. Sickle Cell Anemia

It is an inherited sort of iron deficiency that appears in the form of strangely shaped RBCs. It can also be described as a kind of hemoglobinopathy.

5. Thalassemia

It is another type of inherited anemia where there is a defect in making the red pigment hemoglobin with unusual RBCs.

6. Aplastic Anemia

This happens when the bone marrow fails to produce blood cells.

Symptoms of Different Types of Anemia in Children

symptoms of Anemia

Different kinds of anemia in children show their presence by various symptoms. Some of these signs of anemia in children are given below:

1. Iron Deficiency Anemia

Iron deficiency in children is one of the significant causes of anemia in children. Kids suffering from an iron inadequacy may encounter the following symptoms:

  • A want for unusual things such as dirt, ice, or paper
  • An upward curve in the nails
  • Soreness in the mouth
  • Chapped edges of the lips

2. Megaloblastic Anemia

Children who suffer from megaloblastic anemia may have the following symptoms:

  • A shivering, tingling sensation in the feet or hands
  • Losing the feeling of touch
  • Instability and trouble while walking
  • Heavy-handedness and firmness of the legs and arms
  • Progressive darkening of the skin over the knuckles
  • Infants may present with strange symptoms such as shaking or shivering of arms and legs

3. Hemolytic Anemia

Hemolytic anemia caused by the constant destruction of RBCs may incorporate the following symptoms:

  • Jaundice, i.e., yellow eyes and skin
  • Earthy colored or red urine
  • Ulcers on legs
  • Marks of gallstones
[Read : Gallstones In Children]

4. Sickle Cell Anemia

Symptoms of sickle cell anemia in children may include:

  • Weariness
  • Sensitivity to infections
  • Deferred development and growth in kids
  • Episodes of sharp pain, particularly in the abdomen, joints, and limbs

5. Aplastic Anemia

Aplastic anemia can also happen without symptoms. However, at the point when present, its symptoms consist of:

  • Prolonged or regular infections
  • Easy or unexplained bruising
  • Bleeding from the nose and gums
  • Continued bleeding from wounds or cuts
  • Rashes on skin
  • Fever
  • Other blood cells, such as white cells and platelets are also reduced on simple blood tests

6. Thalassemia

Symptoms of thalassemia in children can consist of:

  • Deformities in facial bones
  • Prominence of forehead
  • Progressive pallor and lethargy starting generally from three months of age
  • Delayed development, especially the physical skills
  • Swelling of the abdomen (enlarged liver or spleen)
  • May, or may not have mild jaundice

Diagnosis of Anemia in Children

The condition of anemia is prevalent in kids. Therefore, doctors perform regular screening. Following tests help to diagnose anemia in children.

  • Test of hemoglobin and hematocrit
  • Peripheral smear
  • Complete blood count (CBC)
  • Reticulocyte count

Blood tests might lead to a slight amount of pain, as the needle is to be inserted into a vein. It may also lead to some tiny swelling or bruising.

Based on the results, your kid may also be required to go through a bone marrow aspiration, biopsy, or both if necessary. The liquid or tissue that is taken is inspected for the size, quantity, and development of blood cells or strange cells.

[Read : What Are the Benefits of Eggs For Children?]

Treatment of Anemia in Children

food rich in iron

Anemia in children’s treatment will rely upon your kid’s age, symptoms, and general wellbeing. It will also rely upon how critical the condition is. The therapy for anemia is primarily dependent on its cause.

Some types don’t need treatment, while some may require medication or short-term follow-up. In different cases, long-term treatment or blood transfusion might be required. In very rare, serious cases, even a bone marrow transplant may be necessary.

  • Vitamin and mineral pills can be prescribed by the doctor.
  • Iron-insufficiency anemia and other nutritional anemia types can be forestalled by ensuring that your youngster follows a consistent eating regimen. Remember to feed them foods that are rich in iron.
  • Great sources of food containing iron are lean meat, fish, poultry, egg yolks, tofu, and numerous different foods.
  • Conversation with a dietician or the pediatrician will help if your child only eats vegetables. They can prescribe foods to assist your kid with getting iron.
  • If your child is under one year age, never give them cow’s milk.

Children are always at a chance of developing anemia. This is chiefly because their diet fails to satisfy the heightened requirements for iron. Indeed, even a low degree of anemia can influence your kid’s energy, focus, and capacity to learn. If your kid starts to display any signs or symptoms of anemia, make certain to tell your pediatrician. With prompt and proper treatment, your child will show signs of improvement soon enough.

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Dr. Stalin Ramprakash, MBBS, MD, MRCPCH, CCT, FRCPCH
Consultant - Paediatric Haematology, Oncology and BMT, Aster CMI Hospital
21 years of experience

Dr. Stalin Ramprakash is an experienced and dynamic consultant who provides high-quality comprehensive care for children with cancer and blood-related problems. He completed his paediatric training in Madras Medical College and pursued further training in the United KingdomRead more.

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