General

Can anemia be prevented in children?

Can anemia be prevented in children?

Some problems that seem to be normal in infancy can be heralded as anemia problem due to iron deficiency in the baby. The problem of anemia due to iron deficiency caused by factors such as non-breastfeeding and feeding with iron-deficient foods adversely affects both physical and intelligence development. Therefore, families should know the symptoms of anemia due to iron deficiency, which is common in infants and children, and should consult a physician on time.

What are the symptoms?

Baby with iron deficiency
• It is a restless, appetite, sometimes very sleepy and sometimes insomnia baby.
• In the case of iron deficiency, the child's growth and development often pause.
• If hemoglobin decreases too much, skin color fades. This paleness can be understood most by looking into the eyelids, oral mucosa, palms and nail beds.
• An iron deficient child hears an appetite for strange things. Soil eating, eating sand, eating ice are seen.
• There is growing literature in the literature that iron deficiency also leads to severe mental retardation and behavior disorder.

If iron deficiency is diagnosed and treated early, most of these disorders resolve.

The mechanism of anemia

Anemia, whose medical name is anemia; It is a clinical condition that occurs when the number of red blood cells, ie, red blood cells and hemoglobin, falls together or separately below normal values ​​for that age. As a result of this decrease, the oxygen carrying capacity of the blood and the amount of oxygen to the tissues decreases. However, no significant physiological changes occur unless the hemoglobin level falls below 7-8 g / dl. The pallor of the skin and mucous membranes becomes apparent only when it falls below this value. Anemia manifests itself in many different ways in children. This clinical picture ranges from no finding to a sick child.

Causes of anemia in children

Causes of anemia in childhood are gathered in three large groups. Anemia due to inadequate production of erythrocytes and hemoglobin; anemia due to excessive destruction of erythrocytes and anemia due to blood loss.
Anemia often occurs in children as a result of one of these mechanisms being deficient or defective, but in some cases more than one cause can be found. Especially the diet is very important.
The most important age groups for the diet are between 6 months and 2 years, and adolescence. In these two periods of rapid growth, iron deficiency anemia may occur as a result of feeding with iron-poor foods. Irregular and excessive menstruation in adolescent girls is a factor contributing to iron deficiency. Vitamin B12 deficiency, which plays an important role in blood production, is mostly seen in people who are fed vegetarian diet and folic acid deficiency occurs in people who are fed a poor diet of green leafy vegetables. However, anemia due to deficiency of these two nutrients is not as common in children as iron-deficient anemia. Some of the drugs It should be remembered that it may cause anemia in children. Drugs can cause anemia by either contributing to the destruction of red blood cells or by suppressing the production of red blood cells by showing a direct toxic effect to the bone marrow. Some drugs are known to cause anemia by preventing the absorption of certain nutrients from the small intestine. Such drugs include some of the drugs used for epilepsy. Although its use is limited, aspirin, which is one of the most commonly used drugs, causes bleeding in the stomach and intestines, causing anemia. This bleeding is often microscopic and cannot be seen.

The role of chronic diseases in anemia

Blood-making disorders and diet, as well as frequent infections and chronic diseases can trigger anemia problem. Ethnicity and race are of great importance in anemia. Sickle-cell anemia is more common in the black race and Arab countries, while thalassemia, known as the Mediterranean anemia, is seen in the forefront in the Mediterranean region. Thalassemia refers to a hemoglobin dysfunction. Hb A1, which is the most important part of adult hemoglobin, constitutes a carrier in case of a partial deficiency in the production of any of the alpha or beta chains, and in case of complete failure, no treatment is required. However, genetic counseling should be given to the patient and his family. The disease usually occurs when the baby is 4-6 months old and requires intensive treatment. These babies develop deep anemia. The liver and spleens are growing. Expansion of the face and head bones occurs. Recurrent blood transfusions need to be done… Bone marrow transplantation is also among the treatment options.

The most common anemia in children

Iron deficiency anemia is the most common type of anemia in children. There is no iron deficiency in the first 6 months in breast-fed infants. Because the iron in breast milk can be absorbed very easily, the growing milk is sufficient in quantity. After six months, insufficient iron intake with additional foods is a candidate for infant iron deficiency. Iron is most commonly found in red meat, egg yolks, green vegetables and cereals. Iron in white meat is not as high as in red meat. In order not to develop iron deficiency, iron from meat and vegetables should be balanced.
It is very important to investigate whether there is blood loss with feces and urine in children with iron deficiency anemia. Peptic ulcers and cow's milk allergy are among the most important conditions causing feces and blood loss. In addition, polyps in the intestine and mucous cracks in the anus may cause blood loss. The fecal occult blood test should be repeated several times, as bleeding may occur intermittently. The most common cause of blood loss in urine is urinary tract infections.

Anemia can be prevented

Taking into account the problems it creates, the importance of protecting children from anemia becomes spontaneous. That's why babies need to be breastfed for six months. In order to prevent anemia due to iron deficiency, dietary importance should be given and supplementary foods rich in iron should be started in a timely and appropriate manner. Preventive iron preparations should be given to babies born prematurely and with low weight. Because iron transfer from mother to baby increases in the end of pregnancy, these babies are born before the iron stores are full and most of the time they are in intensive care, they have to take more blood from the babies for the tests.
Treatment of iron deficiency is mostly done with oral iron preparations. The treatment continues for an average of 3 months. It is aimed to increase hemoglobin in the first 2 months and to fill iron stores in the 3rd month.

Prepared by Acıbadem Healthcare Group Pediatric Hematology and Oncology Specialist.