Risk factors for anaemia include:
- A diet lacking in iron, vitamin B-12 and folate, such as vegans and vegetarians, as well as those on fad diets
- An iron deficiency due to chronic blood loss (slow), such as from an ulcer which consistently depletes the body’s store of iron
- Women going through heavy menstruation (regular loss of RBCs with heavy bleeding)
- Pregnancy and breastfeeding moms (without a sufficient intake of folic acid or an iron-deficiency)
- Intestinal disorders, such as Crohn’s disease or celiac disease that affect the absorption of nutrients in the small intestine
- Chronic conditions such as cancer or kidney problems which cause a shortage of RBCs in the bloodstream
- Inherited anaemic conditions
- A history of blood diseases, autoimmune disorders, infections, exposure to toxic chemicals, medications that disrupt the production of RBCs and alcoholism
- Seniors (over the age of 65)
- Endurance athletes
Anaemia and young children
Babies and young children under the age of 2 are quite susceptible to anaemia. At such an early age, young children typically don’t have enough iron in their system or don’t get enough from their diet. Some of the unusual cravings anaemic individuals (including children) get include ice and starch as well as an urge to eat inappropriate things such as clay or dirt.
During routine visits to the paediatrician, your little one is likely to be assessed or tested for anaemia. This is important because if there is any deficiency, prompt treatment can help to reduce the risk of any complications and permanent development damage, especially to the brain.
Anaemia in teens
Along with all the transition changes a teenage body will go through during puberty, iron-deficiency anaemia is another thing to keep in mind. Teenagers are prone to sudden growth spurts which can lead to anaemia. Teenage girls are more susceptible to deficiency-related anaemia (particularly a lack of iron) than boys due to their menstrual periods (loss of blood, which can be heavy during puberty, and iron).
Health problems and complications can include:
- Severe fatigue and an inability to perform or complete everyday tasks
- Premature birth (a pregnant woman with a folate deficiency form of anaemia)
- Arrhythmia (rapid or irregular heartbeat)
- Heart problems (the body attempts to compensate for a lack of oxygen in the blood by pumping more blood – this can lead to an enlarged heart or heart failure)
- Death (more commonly associated with inherited anaemia disorders where life-threatening complications occur or where severe blood loss occurs over a short period of time)