What are the common causes of anaemia in children?

  • Iron deficiency:
    • Early clamping of the umbilical cord at birth (reduces the newborn infant’s iron stores)
    • Preterm birth (preterm infants have low iron stores)
    • A diet deficient in iron
  • Intestinal parasites
  • Repeated nose bleeds
  • Haemolysis, due to:
    • Malaria
    • Inherited blood disorders (e.g. spherocytosis, thalassaemia or sickle cell disease)
  • Chronic illness, such as tuberculosis and AIDS
  • Severe malnutrition (due to lack of protein to produce haemoglobin)

Less common causes include malignancies, bleeding disorders, folate deficiency, drug side effects and stomach ulcers.

Iron deficiency is by far the commonest cause of anaemia of children in South Africa and most poor societies.

Iron deficiency is the commonest cause of anaemia in children in South Africa.

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