What is anaemia
Anaemia is one of the most common blood problems in children and occurs when the level of healthy red blood cells (RBCs) in the blood becomes too low. These red blood cells contain haemoglobin which carries oxygen to the body’s tissues.
What are the causes of anaemia in Children
The most common causes are
- excessive destruction of RBCs
- blood loss
- inadequate production of RBCs
In Indian scenario by far the most common cause is inadequate production of red blood cells secondary to Iron deficiency known as iron deficiency anaemia
What are the signs and symptoms of Iron deficiency anaemia in children?
In majority of the children there won’t be any obvious signs and symptoms and they may be very mild or not very obvious. These include
- Pale skin and pale mucous membranes
- Excessive tiredness
- Laggind behind in development
- Frequent infections
- Craving to eat soil and other dirt- PICA
What are the foods rich in Iron?
Good sources of iron include red meat, chicken, fish, beans, dry fruits, nuts, and dark green leafy vegetables
How can iron deficiency anaemia prevented?
Prevention is the best strategy. Iron deficiency can be prevented by doing the following
Breast-feed or use iron-fortified formula. Iron from breast milk is more easily absorbed than is the iron in formula feed. If you are not breast-feeding use formula milk with Iron. Cow’s milk isn’t a good source of iron for babies and isn’t recommended for children younger than age 1.
- Encourage a balanced diet.After 6 months start introducing your baby semisolid diets(Weaning) with food rich in iron. For older children, encourage the above foods rich in iron and don’t encourage your child to drink more than 700 ml of milk a day.
- Increase Iron absorption .Vitamin C improves absorbtion of iron from the intestines. Foods rich in vitamin C are melon, strawberries, kiwi, broccoli, tomatoes and potatoes.
- Iron supplements.This should be considered if your baby was born preterm, low birth weight, had jaundice at birth, or was breast-feeding for more than 4 months
What is the treatment for Iron deficiency anemia
In most of the times Iron supplementation is enough and this will improve the volume of red blood cells in the blood. In severe cases we may need to give transfusion of blood cells
Author: Dr.S.Boopathi MD, DNB, MRCPCH(UK)