Anemia is a health issue in which the body does not have healthy red blood cells (RBCs). RBC’s contain the hemoglobin which carries oxygen to the tissues in our body. Hemoglobin is a complex protein that contains iron molecules. These molecules carry oxygen from the lungs to the rest of the body. The lack of iron is the main reason for anemia as iron helps make the red blood cells.
Anemia is becoming a common problem among children. Poor dietary iron intake or excessive loss of iron from the body is the main cause for anemia in children; especially children under the age of 2. A child who is suffering from iron deficiency or anemia, does not have enough red blood cells in his/her body.
The level of iron in a child’s blood at the time of birth depends upon the store of iron in the mother during pregnancy. You must have noticed that doctors prescribe iron supplements to pregnant women. It is because the growing fetus needs the iron content and store it. Iron deficiency hampers both mental and physical growth in children as iron plays an important role during rapid growth of a child.
Also read: Home Remedies To Treat ANEMIA In Babies
There are primarily 3 main causes of Anemia in kids:
The body needs iron to make more RBCs. Blood loss can cause anemia. This blood loss can happen in case of excessive bleeding due to injury, surgery, or a problem with the blood’s clotting ability. Slow, long term bleeding due to injuries can cause anemia.
This happens when the bone marrow can’t make enough blood cells. This can be due to a viral infection, or exposure to certain toxic chemicals, radiation, or medicines (like antibiotics, anti-seizure drugs, or cancer treatments). Genetic and other chronic diseases can also affect the bone marrow functions.
Hemolysis is a process when the body destroys red blood cells more quickly than normal. In healthy people the bone marrow makes up for this loss by increasing production of new red cells. But if red blood cells are destroyed faster than they can be replaced, a person will develop anemia.
Iron is very important for the body and improper nutrition can make the child develop anemia. Improper nutrition significantly decreases the child’s ability to learn and remember and the child is unable to perform outdoor physical activities like sports. The child feels lethargic and it makes their intellectual capacity blunt. Premature or low birth weight babies should be given the extra dose of nutrition to fulfill their iron needs.
It has been researched and mentioned time and again that early use of cow milk develops anemia in children. The most common age of children affected with anemia are younger than 2 years of age. Children who drink excessive amount of milk, especially cow milk, develop anemia at an early age. (Source: www.kidshealth.org)
Also read: How Much Iron Does Your Baby Need?
Note: The first mechanism is the low iron content of cow milk, which makes it difficult for infants to obtain the amount of iron needed for growth. A second mechanism is the occult intestinal blood loss associated with CM consumption during infancy, a condition that affects about 40% of otherwise healthy infants. Loss of iron in the form of blood diminishes with age and ceases after the age of 1 year.
The Treatment of an anemic child will depend on the type of anemia, the age, weight and general health of the child. Some types of anemia may not require any treatments but can be recovered by using supplements and a dietary change. Some types may require medicine, blood transfusions, surgery, or stem cell transplants. Your child’s healthcare provider may refer you to a hematologist.
Medicines for treating anemia must be taken for as long as 3 months to rebuild the body’s store of iron. The doctor also may recommend adding certain iron-rich foods to a child’s diet or reducing the child’s milk intake. Anemia which is caused by an infection usually improves when the infection is treated. If a certain medicine appears to be the cause, the doctor may discontinue it or replace it with something else.
Also read: 21 Iron Rich Recipes For Babies And Toddlers
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