What You Need to Know About Diamond Blackfan Anemia in Children


What is diamond blackfan anemia?

Diamond Blackfan anemia (DBA) is a type of blood disorder which is rare and often diagnosed in children during early years of life. It is a condition in which children cannot produce a typically sufficient amount of red blood cells which have the mission to carry oxygen to other cells and organs of the body.

Bone marrow is where blood cells are produced. Diamond Blackfan anemia means that a lot of these cells in the bone marrow already die before they have a chance to develop into red blood cells.

What you need to know about DBA

Seven in every one million infants are influenced by DBA. The effect of DBA is similar in both genders and do not vary in all races. Signs and symptoms of anemia usually appear by 2 months of age, and the diagnosis of DBA is often made in the first year of life.

The disease may run in family. According to a survey, in half of the children with DBA, a usual gene has been identified and may play a role in causing DBA, while abnormal genes are not detected and the causes remain unknown in the rest of the children with DBA.

Symptoms of DBA

Here below include common signs and symptoms of this kind of anemia:

  • Pallid complexion
  • Usually feeling sleepy
  • Short temper
  • Heart beating at fast pace
  • Heart murmur

Besides these signs and symptoms, approximately 30 to 45 percent of children with DBA have some type of birth defect including abnormalities of the heart, kidneys, head, face, thumbs, or genital area.

DBA diagnosis

DBA often begins to be diagnosed when the doctor sees signs or symptoms of anemia in course of exam or after a routine blood test. In order to carry out diagnosis of DBA, blood sample testing and bone marrow testing are considered as the two most important types of test. Make the diagnosis if:

  • Anemia occurs before your baby is 1 years old
  • Your doctor diagnose the type of anemia being macrocytic from the blood sample. This means that the red blood cells are abnormally bigger.
  • The number of white blood cells and platelets is normal from your blood sample.
  • There is not enough reticulocytes
  • Bone marrow sample indicates that the number of cells that develop into red blood cells is very low.


Common treatments for DBA include:

  • Steroids are strong drugs that help reduce inflammation. Despite the limited knowledge of the mechanism and effect of DBA, steroids enable about 80 percent of people diagnosed with DBA to produce more red blood cells.
  • Blood transfusions. People can raise the number of red blood cells if they are transfused with healthy, match donor blood (every four to six weeks).
  • Stem cell transplant. Inside the bone marrow, there are stem cells which are able to develop into all types of blood cells. Stem cell transplant can help treat DBA. However, the risks are high, so stem cell transplant is only conducted if the two treatments above cannot help.

Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

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