Anaemia is one of the most common paediatric disorders, in which your child’s body does not have enough healthy blood cells to carry oxygen around the body.

What are the effects of anaemia?

This can makes your child feel weak and tired. It can be caused by a nutritional deficiency, excessive blood loss, or may also be due to a chronic or inherited condition, such as a genetic disorder or autoimmune problem.

What are the most common symptoms of anaemia?

Although symptoms vary in each child, the most common symptoms are:

  • Pale skin, lips and hands
  • Increased heart rate
  • Breathlessness
  • Lack of energy and fatigue
  • Dizziness and headaches
  • Irritability
  • Irregular menstruation cycles
  • Jaundice
  • Slow or delayed growth and development

How is it diagnosed?

Anaemia is usually diagnosed through a simple blood test that measures the number of red blood cells, and concentration of haemoglobin in your child’s body. Other tests such as a complete blood count, haemoglobin electrophoresis, and a bone marrow aspiration and biopsy may take place to determine the cause of the anaemia. These can be discussed with your doctor in greater detail.

How is it treated?

There can also be many different kinds of anaemia, including iron deficiency anaemia, megaloblastic (pernicious) anaemia, haemolytic anaemia and sickle cell anaemia.
Treatment is determined by the results of the blood test, and specific cause of the child’s anaemia. Doctors often recommend vitamin and mineral supplements or a change in diet. Other suggestions may include:

  • Medication and/or discontinuing causative medications
  • Treatment of the underlying disorder
  • Surgery to remove the spleen (if related to certain haemolytic anaemias)
  • Blood transfusions, if necessary (to replace significant loss)
  • Antibiotics (as appropriate if infection is the cause)
  • Stem cell transplant (for aplastic anaemia/bone marrow failure)