Anemia In Children – Causes, Symptoms And Treatment

Anemia In Children

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As a parent, taking care of your child’s health becomes paramount for you. Be it the diet, exercise or the sleep pattern, you strive to create a balance for your child.

Toddlers and young kids tend to suffer from a number of minor health issues during their growing years. This is mostly because your child’s immune system is constantly evolving. From diarrhea to frequent cold and cough, your kid will be keeping you busy throughout his development phases.

There is one more health issue that may pass out unnoticed – Anemia. Iron deficiency anemia is a condition that is known to affect women in general, but many kids may also be prone to this deficiency during their childhood. Iron deficiency or anemia as the name suggests, is the lack of required iron content in the blood. Here We bring to you details about the causes, symptoms and treatment for anemia in children.

[ Read: Nutritious Foods For Kids ]

Causes of Anemia in Children:

Though it may sound surprising, childhood anemia is actually a major public health issue and is linked to an increased risk of child mortality. It also has many other effects on your child’s health.

The causes of anemia in kids differ in each case. The likelihood of an individual being affected by anemia largely depends on his geography too. It has been found that some forms of anemia have a genetic predisposition. Also, certain racial groups are at a higher risk of falling prey to the deficiency than others.

Iron deficiency is a most common form of anemia found in children due to the following causes:

  • Consuming a poor diet that lacks essential nutrients including iron.
  • Rapid growth in the first year of life, which causes an increased need of iron, and hence the deficiency.
  • Long term and slow blood loss, such as bleeding in the digestive tract.
  • Inability of the body to absorb iron.
  • Kids who have not been nursed via breastfeeding.
  • All babies are born with iron stored in their bodies, but since they grow very rapidly during the first few years of life, they need extra iron to support their activities. Growing kids need around 1 mg of iron every day.

[ Read: What Causes Iron Poisoning In Children? ]

Signs & Symptoms Of Anaemia in Children:

Mild anemia tends to display little or no symptoms, which is why it is almost impossible to diagnose this condition in the initial stages. Here we have listed down some common anemia symptoms in children that may help you detect iron deficiency easily.

  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Irritability
  • Unusual food cravings
  • Decreased appetite
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Soreness of the tongue
  • Paleness of the skin
  • Brittle nails
  • Blood in the stools
  • Pale whites of the eyes

If you notice any of these signs and symptoms of anemia in your kid, you can make an appointment with your doctor to confirm if your kid is affected by anemia. It is also very important to spot the cause and the type of anemia that your kid is affected with, as that forms the basis of the final treatment.

How To Treat Anemia In Children?

Childhood anemia, just like other forms of anemia, is treated by improving the intake of iron rich foods in the diet. Iron supplements are often advised via tablets in cases of severe anemia in children.

If your kid has been prescribed with iron supplements, make sure you give it to him on an empty stomach. Iron tends to get best absorbed on an empty stomach faster. Also add more foods that are rich in vitamin C to your kid’s diet since vitamin C is known to catalyze the increase in iron absorption.

Milk and antacids tend to interfere with the effectiveness of iron supplements, so make sure you avoid those. Also try adding more iron rich foods like liver, red meat, egg yolks, legumes, raisins and whole grain bread to your kid’s diet.

[ Read: Vitamin C for kids ]

Iron Rich Diet Plan:

Prevention is definitely better than cure, especially among kids who are extremely sensitive to any particular change in their diet or daily routine. Adding more iron rich foods to the diet can help prevent anemia, particularly the one that causes iron deficiency. Some foods that are rich sources of iron include-

  • Prunes
  • Oatmeal
  • Apricot
  • Raisins
  • Tuna
  • Kale
  • Spinach
  • Leafy greens
  • Fish
  • Eggs
  • Dried beans
  • Lentils
  • Chicken
  • Red meat
  • Peanut butter
  • Soybean
  • Turkey
  • Molasses
  • Liver
  • Baby formula with iron
  • Breast milk

Adding more of these foods to the diet, or simply breastfeeding if your child is still an infant can help prevent iron deficiency anemia and also give your kid a good dose of the much needed vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

[ Read: Iron Rich Food For Kids ]

Possible Complications of Anemia In Kids:

Just like other health conditions, if left untreated, anemia may have negative consequences on the physical and mental health of the kid. Some of the complications include:

1. Reduced Cognitive Functioning:

Iron deficiency anemia is linked to decreased cognitive and physical development in children.

2. Reduced Concentration And Learning Difficulties:

It is also believed that anemia may have a negative impact on your kid’s performance at school. Your kid may develop reduced attention span, learning difficulties and reduced alertness.

3. Lead Poisoning:

Iron deficiency anemia in kids is also thought to trigger lead poisoning, which is an extremely serious health condition.

It is important to note than kids only absorb 10% of the iron that they consume every day. Make sure you give your child at least 8-10 mg of iron everyday by making his diet packed with iron rich foods and by simply breastfeeding him if your child is a toddler. If your kid is affected by iron deficiency anemia, remember that there is nothing to worry. It is actually very easy to deal with.

Let us know your experiences in handling iron deficiency anemia in your kids:

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