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The Importance of Anemia Screening

Here’s what you should know about screening your child for an iron deficiency.

Anemia, or iron deficiency, isn’t just a problem that impacts adults; it also affects children. In fact, Cedars-Sinai reports that as many as 20 percent of US children will develop anemia at some point. Anemia occurs when the body doesn’t produce enough red blood cells. Even if your child doesn’t show signs of anemia, our Holly Springs, NC, pediatrician Dr. Maria Castro will still perform an anemia screening on newborns between nine to 12 months old.  

What causes anemia in children? 

It may be surprising to discover that anemia is quite common in children. Some causes of iron deficiency-related anemia include,

  • Sudden grow spurts
  • Loss of blood from an injury or internal bleed
  • Gastrointestinal problems that can lead to malabsorption
  • Low-iron diets

How can I tell if my child has anemia? 

While our Holly Springs, NC, pediatrician will need to perform an anemia screening to be able to determine if your child has anemia, here are some warning signs that should have you schedule an appointment with us,

  • Extreme or persistent fatigue/lacking energy
  • Increased irritability
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Pale skin
  • Odd cravings (e.g., dirt; ice)
  • Swollen tongue

How is anemia diagnosed? 

An anemia screening is simply a blood test that checks hemoglobin levels. If your child has risk factors for anemia, they must get screened. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all newborns be screened at 12 months old, regardless of risk factors.

How is anemia treated?

  • If we detect low iron in your newborn, we may provide iron supplementation along with breastfed (once they begin eating solid foods, we can increase the amount of iron-rich foods are in their diet)
  • If your infant is formula-fed, the formula should have iron in it so they won’t require supplementation
  • Children between the ages of 1 to 3 should increase their intake of iron-rich foods such as leafy greens, fish, poultry, iron-enriched cereals and red meat
  • Increasing their intake of vitamin C is essential, as this also allows the body to absorb iron better

If you are concerned about anemia in your child, or if your child is at risk for anemia and you’d like to schedule a screening with our Holly Spring, NC, pediatrician, call StarLight Pediatrics today at (919) 762-5113.

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