Anemia in Children
Contrary to popular belief, anemia is not restricted to women alone. Men and children too are prone to get anemia. As a matter of fact, anemia is so common in children that a report says that more than 70% of children between the ages I year and 5 years are anemic. Such is the prevalence of childhood anemia in India. Let us know more.
Determinants of Anemia in Children in India
In India, iron, folate, vitamin B12 deficiencies are the common cause of anemia in children. Other common causes child drinking mother’s milk for a prolonged period of time. This is because such children either are only feeding mother’s milk which cannot supply adequate iron or their meager diet along with mother’s milk is unable to supply them necessary iron.
Other causes a doctor will look for is the presence of intestinal worms. This is particularly true for school going children. A simple motion test will indicate the presence of worms in children.
One more factor to look for is malarial infection. In case of malaria, the red blood cells are destroyed and hence the anemia condition.
Determinants of Anemia in Girl Children
Menstruation is a major determinant of anemia in adolescent girl children. This is a factor that is often overlooked and is pretty rampant among schools going adolescent girl children in India. The excess bleeding sometimes and diet poor in iron, folate and other vitamins are the major contributors of anemia.
Symptoms of Anemia in Children
- General weakness which is normally milder
- Children get tired easily
- Pale or yellow skin
- Nail bed lining has a lesser pinkish hue
- Children who have anemic types where red blood cells are destroyed faster have a jaundiced skin and eyes.
- Severe symptoms include shortness of breath, rapid heart rate, headache, dizziness, swollen hands or feet, etc
Other Less Known Types of Anemia in Children
- Megaloblastic anemia
- Hemolytic anemia
- Apalstic anemia
- Sickle cell anemia (inherited due to genetic reasons)
- Thalassemia (inherited due to genetic reasons)
Other Lesser Known Risk Factors for Children getting Anemia
- Prematured birth is a primary risk factor
- Long term illness in a child
- Trauma where there is more than usual blood loss
- Very rare genetic reasons where there are family history of sickle cell anemia or thalassemia
Diagnosis and Treatment of Anemia in Children
Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Peripheral Smear Test are the two gold standard tests for diagnosing anemia. All other specific tests are conducted only after seeing the clues given by these two tests.
The treatment for anemia in children depends on the cause of anemia. Since in majority of cases, it is caused by deficiency of iron, folate, and vitamin B12, vitamin and mineral drops are prescribed in infants and pills are recommended to be given in children. Apart from this diet plays an important role and hence the doctor recommends diet rich in iron, folate, vitamin B12 and other vitamins and minerals. Deworming pills are given to children in case no generic or specific causes have been found. If the tests points to the presence of any specific reasons apart from deficiency causes, specific tests are ordered and accordingly treatment plans are devised by the doctor.