Anemia Care at Norton Children’s

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Norton Children’s provides hematology care for infants, children and teens experiencing various types of anemia. Our specialists can create a treatment plan unique to the type of anemia.

What is Anemia?

Anemia is a condition in which the body doesn’t have enough healthy red blood cells to carry oxygen to the body’s tissues. Anemia can make a child feel tired and weak.

There are many types of anemia caused by different factors. Anemia can be temporary or a long-term condition, and it can be mild to severe.

Types of Anemia We Treat

Anemias due to red blood cell membrane disorders

  • Anemia caused by chronic disease. Red blood cell production can be affected by certain diseases, causing anemia. Conditions that can cause anemia include cancer, HIV/AIDS, rheumatoid arthritis, kidney disease, Crohn’s disease, critical illness and other chronic inflammatory diseases.
  • Hemolytic anemia. This type of anemia develops when red blood cells are destroyed faster than bone marrow can replace them. Certain blood diseases increase red blood cell destruction. You can inherit this type of anemia or develop it later in life.

Anemias due to bone marrow failure

  • Anemias associated with bone marrow conditions. Conditions such as leukemia may cause anemia by affecting the blood production in bone marrow.
  • Aplastic anemia. This type of anemia is rare and occurs when the body doesn’t create enough red blood cells. Causes of aplastic anemia include infections, certain medicines, autoimmune diseases and exposure to toxic chemicals.

Inherited anemias

  • Sickle cell anemia and other hemoglobinopathies (disorders that affect red blood cells). Sickle cell anemia is an inherited and sometimes serious condition. It is considered an inherited hemolytic anemia. It’s caused by a faulty form of hemoglobin that forces red blood cells to become a crescent (sickle) shape. These irregular blood cells die prematurely, causing a chronic shortage of red blood cells.
  • This type is an inherited blood disorder that causes anemia due to the body making an inadequate amount of hemoglobin.

Nutritional anemias

  • Iron deficiency anemia. Bone marrow needs iron to make hemoglobin, a protein in red blood cells that helps carry oxygen to tissue. If your body doesn’t have enough iron, it can’t produce enough hemoglobin for red blood cells, causing iron deficiency anemia. It is the most common type of anemia.
  • Vitamin deficiency anemia. This type is caused by a lack of folate and vitamin B-12. The body needs a diet rich in these nutrients to produce an adequate amount of healthy red blood cells.

Secondary iron deficiency anemia

  • This is a menstrual period with abnormally heavy blood loss or extended bleeding time. The blood loss can cause anemia due to reducing the number of circulating red blood cells. Teen girls can experience menorrhagia due to anovulation, when the ovaries do not release an egg during a menstrual cycle, as well as other conditions.

Anemia Treatment

Anemia can be a short-term or long-term condition. Treatments depend on the type of anemia a child experiences. Anemia treatments depend on:

  • Anemia cause
  • Scope of the condition
  • Type of anemia
  • The child’s age, current health and family medical history
  • The child’s tolerance for medicines, procedures or therapies

Depending on the type of anemia, treatment may include:

  • Antibiotics to treat an infection causing the anemia
  • Blood transfusions
  • Bone marrow transplant
  • Diet changes
  • Medications
  • Stopping medications that have an anemia side effect
  • Surgery
  • Vitamin and mineral supplements

The Norton Children’s Difference

As home to the state’s leading pediatric hematology program, Norton Children’s offers sophisticated care for your child, including:

  • The state’s largest pediatric coagulation center. Our hematology specialists have extensive experience with treatments, including two decades of red cell exchange apheresis care.
  • Norton Children’s Cancer Institute, affiliated with the University of Louisville, features the area’s only pediatric apheresis and photopheresis program. Apheresis can be used in treatment protocols for many blood disorders.
  • Norton Children’s is home to the area’s only blood and marrow transplant program dedicated to treating children. Stem cell transplants are used to treat a variety of blood disorders.
  • Norton Children’s Infusion Center provides families with easy access to care without having to spend a night in the hospital. The center focuses on children, but also administers infusions to adults. The center offers:
    • Blood transfusions
    • Intravenous infusion therapy for patients with specific needs
    • Red blood cell depletion to remove excess red blood cells using apheresis
    • Red blood cell exchange, an effective therapy for sickle cell disease in which damaged red cells are removed and replaced with healthy red blood cells
    • White cell depletion, which uses apheresis to remove white blood cells when levels are dangerously high

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