Babies and ChildrenAnemia in children: causes and alarm symptoms

Anemia in children: causes and alarm symptoms

Childhood anemia is usually caused by an iron deficiency, but what are the causes and symptoms of this problem in children?

The anemia in children is a disease caused mainly by low iron levels in the blood. Iron is a fundamental micromineral for our body to carry out different vital functions, intervening in the transport of oxygen and carbon dioxide, and participating in the production of hemoglobin, among other elements of the blood.

We know that iron is one of the essential mineral salts for the proper functioning of the body, playing, for example, a very important role in the formation of hemoglobin  contained in red blood cells, in numerous enzymes that are essential for the proper functioning of the body, and in the formation of muscle myoglobin.

However, it is estimated that half of children under three years of age suffer from  childhood anemia, which is understood to mean the decrease in hemoglobin below the limits that are considered normal according to the age and sex of the child.

Causes of childhood anemia

Although, as many experts indicate, childhood anemia can have several justifications, the  main cause in most cases is due to a certainly insufficient intake of iron in the diet, causing deficits.

In fact, anemia caused by low or decreased iron levels is the most common cause of anemia, and especially childhood anemia.

The growth of the smallest ones implies an increase in the volume of both blood and muscle, which is why the needs of this mineral tend to increase. This is even more important during the period of puberty, where an increase in iron consumption is even necessary.

There are also other nutrients that can cause childhood anemia, such as a deficiency of  folic acid and / or vitamin B12, causing a type of anemia that has to do with an alteration in DNA synthesis.

There are other causes that can cause anemia due to a low iron level in children. For example:

  • Inability of the body to absorb iron normally (despite the fact that the child maintains an adequate diet that provides recommended and sufficient amounts of this mineral).
  • Slow and prolonged blood loss It is usually common during menstrual periods (for example, after the arrival of the first menstruation), or due to some type of bleeding in the digestive tract.

What are the most common symptoms in childhood anemia?

Some of the symptoms that anemic children usually present depend mainly on the severity of the disease, so that, for example, in mild cases the symptoms are somewhat nonspecific, but in somewhat more advanced stages, cardiorespiratory alternations may occur.

In addition, iron deficiency can even cause learning difficulties, which is why childhood anemia can negatively affect an alleged and possible school failure.

Thus, when childhood anemia is mild, it may not present symptoms in most cases.  However, as the blood iron count decreases over time, symptoms can occur, such as:

  • Irritable mood.
  • Pica disorder (eating unusual or inedible foods, such as paper or dirt).
  • Tiredness and weakness, which continues all the time.
  • Headache.
  • Dizziness.

When anemia increases and becomes severe, other symptoms may also appear, such as pale skin, bluish discoloration of the whites of the eyes (that is, the whites of the eyes), and brittle nails.

What are the tests or exams that help to diagnose it?

When the existence of anemia in the child is suspected, the pediatrician is likely to prescribe certain tests or medical examinations that help to discover whether or not there are decreased levels of iron in the blood.

When performing the blood test, the following elements may be included: serum iron, hematocrit, serum ferritin, and total iron-binding capacity (CTFH).

Foods high in iron

How is the treatment of childhood anemia?

It is estimated that most children need an approximate intake of between 3 mg to 6 mg of iron per day. However, this amount can easily be administered through following a varied and balanced diet.

And what are the best sources of iron in children’s diets? Chicken, turkey, fish and beef, lentils and dried beans, apricots, eggs, raisins, spinach, kale, and other green leafy vegetables and prunes.


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