What is anemia?
Anemia is a condition in which the amount of healthy red blood cells in the blood vessels become too low. Red blood cells contain hemoglobin. Hemoglobin brings oxygen to the tissues. Body tissues and organs need oxygen to survive and work properly. Thus, anemia can lead to fatigue and stress.
Your child may have fewer red blood cells than normal children because:
−The body does not produce enough red blood cells or it produces too slowly.
−Too many red blood cells are destroyed.
−The body loses too many red blood cells.
This can happen when your child has nutrient deficiencies (lack of iron), inherited disorders, infections, some types of cancers or heavy menstrual bleeding.
What are the common symptoms of anemia?
If your child experiences mild anemia, you may not see any symptoms. But if the levels of red blood cells in her or his body become too low, possible symptoms are:
−Your child acts irritable.
−Your child experiences fatigue.
−Your child eats less.
−Your child has a sore tongue.
−Your child may have headaches or dizziness.
−Your child may have pale skin color.
−Your child easily gets breathless.
If you notice these symptoms and signs, take your child to a hospital to check whether he or she is experiencing anemia.
What are possible complications of anemia?
Untreated anemia can lead to learning problems, social interaction and communication problems or difficulty paying attention and concentrating. If the anemia is due to iron deficiency, a low iron level can cause the body to absorb too much lead. Severe anemia causes increased workload of the heart which could lead to heart failure.
How to treat anemia?
Anemia in children can be treated based on its causes.
If your child suffers from iron-deficiency anemia, treatment options usually involve diet modifications and iron supplements. Foods that are rich in iron include apricots, chicken, fish, eggs, liver, dried beans, oatmeal, peanut butter, raisins, and spinach. If iron-deficiency anemia is a result of blood loss, the doctor may recommend hormonal treatment to regulate the bleeding from irregular menstruation or surgery to stop the source of the bleeding.
If your child suffers from vitamin deficiency anemia (such as folic acid and vitamin B12 deficiencies), treatment options involve dietary supplements and diet changes. If your child has trouble absorbing vitamin B12 from foods, you may have to take him or her to a doctor for vitamin B12 shots.
If your child suffers from anemia caused by certain diseases, your doctor will try to determine the underlying cause and treat it. If your child has severe symptoms, he or she may need a blood transfusion or synthetic erythropoietin injections (This hormone makes your body produce more red blood cells).
If your child suffers from sickle cell anemia (a type of anemia in which too many red blood cells are destroyed), treatment options may include painkillers, antibiotics, blood transfusions, and folic acid supplements.
How to prevent anemia?
Although you cannot prevent many types of anemia, you can protect your kids from iron or vitamin deficiencies – the most common causes of anemia.
Your child may not get enough breast milk (which is rich in iron) or drink cow milk regularly (which contains less iron than fortified formula). Drinking a lot of cow milk or goat milk can make your child feel less interested in other iron-rich foods. Thus, regular cow milk and goat milk are not recommended.
A balanced diet
You can design a balanced diet for your child.
−Iron can be found in fish, meats, beans, raisins, kales, spinach, apricots, and beef.
−Folic acid can be found in fruits, green peas, dark green leafy vegetables, peanuts, bread, cereals, and rice.
−Vitamin B12 can be found in meat, milk and milk products such as cheese, yogurt, and soy milk.
−Vitamin C can be found in citrus fruits such as orange, grapefruit, peppers, tomatoes, broccoli, pineapples, strawberries, and melons. Vitamin C is important. It can help increase your child’s iron absorption.
You might also want to read:
- Dealing with Iron Deficiency Anemia during Pregnancy
- Anemia in Adolescents
- Powerful Foods for People with Anemia
Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
Review Date: August 30, 2017 | Last Modified: August 30, 2017
Anemia caused by low iron – infants and toddlers. https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/007618.htm. Accessed February 20, 2017.
Anemia and Your Child: Parent FAQs. https://www.healthychildren.org/English/health-issues/conditions/chronic/Pages/Anemia-and-Your-Child.aspx. Accessed February 20, 2017.
Iron deficiency in children: Prevention tips for parents. http://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/childrens-health/in-depth/iron-deficiency/art-20045634. Accessed February 20, 2017.