Anemia may affect people of all ages including children. In this medical condition there is an insufficient number of red blood cells. These cells are necessary for transfer of hemoglobin and if their number is not optimal a person develops certain symptoms and signs. Red blood cells are produced in the bone marrow. After being produced erythrocytes are transferred to blood where they spend around 120 days performing their function.
As it is the case in adults, anemia in children develops either as a consequence of inadequate production of red blood cells in the bone marrow or if red blood cells are destroyed faster than normal. Even blood loss (acute or chronic) may be associated with anemia in children.
Anemia Caused by Insufficient Production of Erythrocytes
It is normal for an infant to be born with high level of hemoglobin and increased number of red blood cells. These values usually drop until the second month of age and this is considered a normal physiologic anemia of infancy. After certain period of time this type of anemia normalizes.
Insufficient production of red blood cells can result from iron deficiency or other deficiencies. Iron deficiency anemia usually occurs in children under the age of 2 and teens (particularly girls). Vitamin B12 and folic acid deficiency are two additional causes of insufficient production of red blood cells.
Furthermore, insufficient production of erythrocytes is common for aplastic anemia, leukemia, chronic kidney disease, or it occurs due to exposure to certain chemicals, toxins, radiation and chemotherapeutics. One more cause of anemia in children is transient erythroblastopenia of childhood. This is not a serious condition and it withdraws spontaneously.
Anemia Caused by Destruction of Erythrocytes
In case red blood cells are destroyed faster than they should be this eventually leads to reduction of their number. This is so called hemolytic anemia, a condition in which red blood cells abnormally break down either in the blood vessels or in other extravascular parts of the body.
Hemolysis of red blood cells can be spontaneous or it is connected with infections, intake of certain medications, exposure to snake or spider venom etc. Liver and kidney disease as well as autoimmune hemolytic anemia are several more causes of increased destruction of red blood cells.
Anemia Caused by Blood Loss
In case there is some kind of bleeding in the body a person may develop anemia. In children this generally occurs due to injuries, surgeries and problems with coagulation. Intestinal bleeding as well as increased loss of blood during menstrual periods are two more causes of this type of anemia.