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Signs And Symptoms Of Anaemia In Children

Anaemia affects around one-fourth of the population globally; According to a study based on a review of 44 studies conducted on 19 European countries, 2-25 per cent of infants who are between 6-12 months were found deficient in iron, especially those children living in low to medium income countries and those who have started on cow's milk within one year of life. [1]

In addition to that, in children between the age of 12-36 months, the prevalence of anaemia is between 3-48 per cent. Furthermore, around 40 per cent of preschool children who are residing in low and middle-income countries are anaemic.

There are many signs and symptoms that help identify anaemia in children. In this article, we will discuss the same. Take a look.

Reasons Of Anaemia In Children

Children can become prone to anaemia due to several reasons: blood loss either due to injury or ailment, poor intake of iron-rich diets or inability of the body to absorb iron from the food.

Iron plays a vital role in producing haemoglobin, a protein in the blood that helps transport oxygen to the body tissues. The inadequacy of iron causes a decrease in the level of blood haemoglobin and thus, the body tissues absorb less oxygen than they should.

Signs And Symptoms Of Anaemia In Children

1. Fatigue and weakness

Fatigue and weakness come under some of the more frequently observed signs of anaemia in kids and children. As aforementioned, deficiency of haemoglobin decreases the supply of oxygen in the body, which in turn, obstruct the functioning of the vital body organs, making the person feel fatigued, weak, tired and dizzy most of the time. [2]

2. Delayed wound healing

Iron plays a great role in the skin and cutaneous wound healing, says a study. This vital nutrient has long been known to keep the skin, hair, nails and mucous membranes healthy. Lack of iron may result in skin-related problems and may delay the healing of wounds. Also, anaemia may lead to inflammation that results in the same. [3]

3. Pale skin

This symptom is often missed by families of anaemic kids. Paleness is one of the fundamental indications of anaemia in kids. Anaemic kids have a reduced number of red blood cells or low haemoglobin levels, which will make them look paler than their normal complexion. The paleness can be determined by looking at the skin of the kid's palm and comparing it with yours or other children. [4]

4. Frequent infection

According to a study, the relationship between anaemia and infection is usually a complex one. Some of the infection types caused due to anaemia in children are urinary tract infections, respiratory tract infections and gastroenteritis. Anaemia usually causes poor circulation of oxygenated blood in the body leading to lower immunity, and thus a high risk of infection. [5]

5. Delayed psychomotor development

Children with anaemia are often found to have delayed psychomotor development like problems in movement, coordination, attention and observation. Anaemia, due to any factors, can affect parts of the brain such as the hippocampus which is responsible for learning, memory and other psychomotor development during childhood.[6]

6. Breathlessness

A study talks about four children (aged between 11 months to 2 years) with a respiratory distress symptom and unresponsive to bronchodilator treatment. They were later diagnosed with severe anaemia with low haemoglobin count. Respiratory distress such as breathlessness in children could be due to less haemoglobin-packed red blood cells in the body, leading to a shortage of oxygen supply to the heart and thus, breathlessness. [7]

7. Craving for unusual foods (Pica)

Pica or craving for unusual foods is also among the common anaemic symptoms in children and kids. Anaemic kids may show unusual cravings for both edible and inedible substances such as ice, clay, dirt, paint or starch. Consumption of these items may interfere with the absorption of iron in the body. Also, studies say that pica is mainly a symptom of iron-deficiency anaemia, not its cause. Globally, around 25-33 per cent of all pica cases involve children. [8]

8. Poor appetite

Anaemic kids may present symptoms of poor appetite and increased risk of malnutrition, says a study. Leptin and ghrelin are two hormones that help in appetite regulation. The prior induces satiety while the latter stimulates appetite or makes one hungry. Studies say that low iron in the body negatively affects leptin, which in turn, induce satiety even without or less consumption of food, leading to poor appetite. [9]

9. Decreased school and athletic performances

In school going children, anaemia may cause decreased school and athletic performances, lower cognitive functions and poor attention. It may limit the capacity of a child's body to carry and deliver oxygen, leading to a potential decrease in maximum oxygen uptake. This may deteriorate the overall health and performance of children. [10]

10. Restless leg syndrome (RLS)

Anaemia may lead to the development of a condition known as restless leg syndrome- a condition characterised by a strong urge to move the legs. A part of the brain named basal ganglia uses the neurotransmitter dopamine to control muscle activity and movement. Low iron in the body affects the release of dopamine, which in turn, affect the movement and muscle activity and cause the syndrome.

To Conclude

Mild anaemia can easily be treated by medications. In case your kid presents any of the aforementioned signs of anaemia, consult a medical expert as early as possible for proper diagnosis and treatment and to avoid any complications at later stages of their lives.

How do you know if your child is anaemic?

Some signs and symptoms can help identify that your child is anaemic. The symptoms are paleness, breathlessness, weakness, poor appetite, decreased concentration and poor school performance.

What are the first signs and symptoms of anaemia?

Some of the first signs and symptoms of anaemia may include fatigue, weakness, dizziness, headache and breathlessness.

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