Childhood anemia is a common disorder caused by a decrease in the amount of red blood cells for in comparison to the child’s age. This is especially because children are prone to a rapid growth which is usually a potential cause of anemia. Childhood anemia can be very challenging and can sometimes put the child at a risk of death or cause an impaired physical development.
The following conditions can put your child at a risk of anemia:
- Low production of red blood cells- Here, the child does not get enough nutrients especially iron, in his or her diet. Iron deficiency may be as a result of introducing your child early to whole cow’s milk or constant intake of fruit juice.
- Destroyed red blood cells-In this case, majority of the child’s red blood cells have been damaged due to a severe illness or an inherited blood disorder e.g.: sickle cell
- Loss of red blood cells due to bleeding – This can happen in a case of severe blood loss due to an injury.
- Bone marrow aplasia ,replacement by tumor cells or replacement by fibrous tissue
- Deficiency of folic acid – This occurs during a rapid growth in your child
- Deficiency of vitamin B12 – this is common in children who were breast-fed by vegetarian mothers
With reduced hemoglobin level comes a diminished oxygen-carrying capacity and because the cells in the child’s organs need oxygen to survive, the reduction in the number of red blood cells will take a toll on the body as metabolic demands are not optimally met. You will notice that your child is weak, pale in color, cranky and generally fatigued or very dizzy. Though anemia is easy to treat if detected early, it can be acute or chronic. The condition is often a pointer to other disorders in your child, such as inherited disorders, nutritional deficiencies, infections, cancer and an exposure to toxin. This is because childhood anemia is not a specific disease entity but a disorder caused by various underlying pathological conditions. It is always advised to run exhaustive tests and begin early treatment once anemia is detected in a child.
To this end, it is needful to look out for the following symptoms of childhood anemia:
- Pale or gray skin color
- Changes in the color of the eyelids and nail beds
- Irritability and fussiness
- Weakness and exhaustion
- Jaundice, evidenced by the yellowing of the skin and eyes
- Shortness of breath
- Rapid heart rate
- Swollen hands and feet
Once you notice any of the above named symptoms in your child, it is best to see a doctor as even a low level of anemia can affect your child’s output and general well being. It’s important to also check if anyone in your family has a history of anemia or bleeding problems. With early and proper treatment, your child will be on the way to recovering from anemia or improving from it, as the case may be.