Iron is a core component in the production if haemoglobin, the oxygen-carrying red pigment in the body. Iron deficiency reduces the number of red blood cells in the body or reduces their oxygen-carrying capacity, which leads to reduced oxygen reach in the body tissues. This problem also intensifies when babies are growing and their body requires extra iron for development.
Some of the most common types and causes of anaemia are:
- Haemolytic anaemia – when red blood cells in the body get destroyed prematurely and the bone marrow, responsible for making new blood cells, cannot keep up with the demand.
- Autoimmune haemolytic anaemia – A kind of haemolytic anaemia where the body’s internal immune system mistakes RBCs for foreign entities and begins destroying them.
- Sickle cell anaemia – Here the haemoglobin forms long rods which stretches the red blood cells into sickle-like shapes, resulting in their premature destruction. These abnormally-shaped cells can also clog small blood vessels causing chronic pain.
- Thalassaemia – Thalassaemia major is a severe form of anaemia in which RBCs are rapidly destroyed and iron is deposited in the vital organs. Thalassaemia minor, however, causes less severe anaemia.
- Anaemia caused by blood loss – Excessive bleeding due to injury, surgery, or even heavy menstrual bleeding, coupled with an ineffective clotting ability of the blood can cause anaemia. Slower, long-term blood loss, such as intestinal bleeding from inflammatory bowel disease, can also be a possible reason.
- Aplastic anaemia – Occurs when the bone marrow can’t make enough blood cells, due to viral infections, genetic diseases, or exposure to toxic chemicals, radiation, or even medications.
- Iron deficiency anaemia – Occurs due poor dietary iron intake (or excessive loss of iron from the body) that reduces the capacity to produce more haemoglobin. It is the most common cause of anaemia in infants.
Presence of anaemia typically shows the following symptoms:
- Irritability and fatigue
- Pale and weak appearance
- Dizziness, light-headedness, and a rapid heartbeat
- Jaundice in extreme cases caused by the increased levels of bilirubin
- Yellowing of the white portion in the eyes
- Dark tea coloured urine
- An enlarged spleen
- Developmental delays that may decrease motor activities in growing kids
- Rapid heart rate and low blood pressure
In the case of mild anaemia, no medication is needed. For more severe cases, a doctor may prescribe iron supplements (in tablet form or liquid drop form) for the baby. The medication must, in most cases, be taken for almost three months to rebuild the body’s iron count. In extreme situations, only in extreme cases of some chronic illness or heavy blood loss, a blood transfusion may also be necessary. In some cases of sickle cell anaemia, thalassaemia, and aplastic anaemia, bone marrow transplantation may also be necessary.