Anemia in Children - is a decrease in number of red blood cells (RBCs) or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. However, it can include decreased oxygen-binding ability of each hemoglobin molecule due to deformity or lack in numerical development as in some other types of hemoglobin deficiency.
Because hemoglobin (found inside RBCs) normally carries oxygen from the lungs to the tissues, anemia leads to hypoxia (lack of oxygen) in organs. Since all human cells depend on oxygen for survival, varying degrees of anemia can have a wide range of clinical consequences.
Anemia in Children, one of the more common blood disorders, occurs when the level of healthy red blood cells (RBCs) in the body becomes too low. This can lead to health problems because RBCs contain hemoglobin, which carries oxygen to the body's tissues. Anemia can cause a variety of complications, including fatigue and stress on bodily organs.
Anemia in Children can be caused by many things, but the three main bodily mechanisms that produce it are:
- -excessive destruction of RBCs
- -blood loss
- -inadequate production of RBCs
Among many other causes, anemia can result from inherited disorders, nutritional problems (such as an iron or vitamin deficiency), infections, some kinds of cancer, or exposure to a drug or toxin.
Anemia in Children is the most common disorder of the blood.
Signs and Symptoms Anemia in Children
Most commonly, Children with anemia report non-specific symptoms of a feeling of weakness, or fatigue, general malaise and sometimes poor concentration. They may also report dyspnea (shortness of breath) on exertion. In very severe anemia, the body may compensate for the lack of oxygen-carrying capability of the blood by increasing cardiac output. The patient may have symptoms related to this, such as palpitations, angina (if preexisting heart disease is present), intermittent claudication of the legs, and symptoms of heart failure.
If your child has anemia, the first symptoms might be mild skin paleness and decreased pinkness of the lips and nailbeds. These changes may happen gradually, though, so they can be difficult to notice. Other common signs include:
- -dizziness, lightheadedness, and a rapid heartbeat
- -If the anemia is caused by excessive destruction of RBCs, symptoms also may include jaundice, a yellowing of the whites of the eyes, an enlarged spleen, and dark tea-colored urine.
On examination, the signs exhibited may include pallor (pale skin, mucosal linings and nail beds) but this is not a reliable sign. There may be signs of specific causes of anemia, e.g., koilonychia (in iron deficiency), jaundice (when anemia results from abnormal break down of red blood cells — in hemolytic anemia), bone deformities (found in thalassemia major) or leg ulcers (seen in sickle-cell disease).
In infants and preschoolers, iron deficiency anemia can result in developmental delays and behavioral disturbances, such as decreased motor activity and problems with social interaction and attention to tasks. Research indicates that developmental problems may last into and beyond school age if the iron deficiency is not properly treated.
Chronic anemia in Children may result in behavioral disturbances in children as a direct result of impaired neurological development in infants, and reduced scholastic performance in children of school age.
Diagnosing Anemia in Children
Anemia is typically diagnosed on a complete blood count. Apart from reporting the number of red blood cells and the hemoglobin level, the automatic counters also measure the size of the red blood cells by flow cytometry, which is an important tool in distinguishing between the causes of anemia.
In modern counters, four parameters (RBC count, hemoglobin concentration, MCV and RDW) are measured, allowing others (hematocrit, MCH and MCHC) to be calculated, and compared to values adjusted for age and sex. Some counters estimate hematocrit from direct measurements.
Treatments for anemia depend on severity and cause.
It's important not to assume that any symptoms your child may be having are due to iron deficiency. Be sure to have your child checked by a doctor.
The diagnosis of iron deficiency mandates a search for potential sources of loss such as gastrointestinal bleeding from ulcers or colon cancer. Mild to moderate iron-deficiency anemia is treated by oral iron supplementation with ferrous sulfate, ferrous fumarate, or ferrous gluconate.
When taking iron supplements, it is very common to experience stomach upset and/or darkening of the feces. The stomach upset can be alleviated by taking the iron with food; however, this decreases the amount of iron absorbed. Vitamin C aids in the body's ability to absorb iron, so taking oral iron supplements with orange juice is of benefit.
Vitamin supplements given orally (folic acid) or intramuscularly (vitamin B-12) will replace specific deficiencies.