Does your child look pale, often tired, and get out of breath quickly during exercise or play? These complaints may be symptoms of anemia.
Anemia is caused by a low level of hemoglobin. In addition to this level in the blood, the volume of cells in the blood is also analyzed. This is called hematocrit content. Anemia is usually the result of an iron deficiency, but there may also be another reason for a low hemoglobin level.
This is a problem because red blood cells carry a protein called hemoglobin, which itself carries oxygen throughout the body. When there are not enough red blood cells that carry enough oxygen to different parts of the body, it affects the functionality of the body’s organs and muscles.
What is anemia in children?
Anemia is a condition in which the number of red blood cells in the body decreases below normal for your child’s age. Red blood cells are filled with hemoglobin, a special pigmented protein that allows oxygen to be transported and supplied to other cells in the body. The cells in your child’s muscles and organs need oxygen to survive, and the decrease in the number of red blood cells can put stress on the body.
It can make your child appear pale in color and feel moody, tired, or weak. Although these symptoms may worry you, the most common causes of anemia, such as iron deficiency, are generally easy to treat, especially when caught early. In addition, parents should be aware of the steps to take to prevent this condition.
There are different types of anemia:
- Iron deficiency anemia. This is insufficient iron in the blood. Iron is needed to form hemoglobin. This is the most common cause of anemia.
- Megaloblastic anemia. This is when red blood cells are too large from a lack of folic acid or vitamin B-12. One type of megaloblastic anemia is pernicious anemia. In this type, there is a problem absorbing vitamin B-12, important for the creation of red blood cells.
- Hemolytic anemia. This is when red blood cells are destroyed. There are many different causes, such as serious infections or certain medications.
- Sickle cell anemia. This is a type of hemoglobinopathy, an inherited type of anemia with abnormally shaped red blood cells.
- Cooley’s anemia (thalassemia). This is another inherited type of anemia with abnormal red blood cells.
- Aplastic anemia. This is a failure of the bone marrow to produce blood cells.
Causes of anemia in childhood
Children, particularly during their first year of life (as well as during adolescence), are especially prone to anemia due to rapid body development. This is one of the potential causes of the condition.
Your child may be iron deficient for the following reasons:
- You don’t get enough iron through food.
- The intestines absorb very little iron. This is the case with celiac disease.
- You lose blood due to an intestinal disease such as ulcerative colitis or a Meckels’ diverticulum.
When children have anemia, they look very pale. The most famous complaints are fatigue and lethargy, but the result can also be a reduction in exercise capacity, palpitations and dizziness. Iron deficiency also causes a delay in children’s mental and motor development. This backlog if left untreated can persist for a long time.
Anemia can be diagnosed with a blood test. In the case of an iron deficiency, red blood cells contain very little hemoglobin or red dye. Blood cells are too small.
Treatment of anemia in children
If your doctor diagnoses iron deficiency anemia, it is important to examine how this deficiency occurred. Many children are thought to have anemia when this is not the case. It is important to note that normal blood levels are much lower for infants and young children than for adults.
Iron deficiency is often due to poor nutrition. Whole wheat bread, vegetables, legumes, and meat contain iron. Feeding your little ones these products can help increase their iron levels.
An iron deficiency can easily develop if babies are not supplemented with breastfeeding after six months. That is why it is important that follow-on milk contains extra iron.
Older children have often prescribed iron tablets. They always advise not to take these tablets with milk. Iron is less absorbed in the intestine in combination with milk.
If your child develops severe anemia, the doctor will give him a drink with iron. At extremely low blood values, a blood transfusion is sometimes given. With a blood transfusion, the blood level is immediately raised to the required level. Such a transfusion always carries possible risks and/or unwanted reactions.
Long-term effects of anemia
Untreated anemia in children can have a serious effect on a child’s growth. Anemia can affect mental development and function. This often leads to attention problems, delays in reading ability, and poor school performance.
Iron deficiency anemia and other nutritional anemias can be prevented by ensuring your child eat a balanced diet. Talk to your doctor about any specific dietary restrictions in your home, as your child may require a nutritional supplement to prevent anemia.
Foods rich in iron
Iron is an important part of a healthy diet. Iron-rich foods include:
-beef, pork, chicken and seafood
- dried peas and dried beans
- dehydrated fruit
- dark leafy vegetable
- cereals, bread and pasta enriched with iron
Although cow’s milk is good food, it is not advisable to abuse dairy, as they hinder the absorption of iron. In this other article, we give you some tips to introduce solids into your baby’s diet.
All the information we give you in this article is indicative as each child and each family is different and unique.
Carolina González Ramos
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