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Anemia in Children - Article
ABSTRACT: Anemia in children is commonly encountered by the family physician. Multiple causes exist, but with a thorough history, a physical examination and limited laboratory evaluation a specific diagnosis can usually be established. The use of the mean corpuscular volume to classify the anemia as microcytic, normocytic or macrocytic is a standard diagnostic approach. The most common form of microcytic anemia is iron deficiency caused by reduced dietary intake. It is easily treatable with supplemental iron and early intervention may prevent later loss of cognitive function. Less common causes of microcytosis are thalassemia and lead poisoning. Normocytic anemia has many causes, making the diagnosis more difficult. The reticulocyte count will help narrow the differential diagnosis; however, additional testing may be necessary to rule out hemolysis, hemoglobinopathies, membrane defects and enzymopathies. Macrocytic anemia may be caused by a deficiency of folic acid and/or vitamin B12, hypothyroidism and liver disease. This form of anemia is uncommon in children.
ABSTRACT: The prevalence of nutritional iron deficiency anemia in infants and toddlers has declined dramatically since 1960. However, satisfaction with this achievement must be tempered because iron deficiency anemia in infants and toddlers is associated with long-lasting diminished mental, motor, and behavioral functioning. Additionally, the prevalence of iron deficiency anemia in one- to three-year-old children seems to be increasing. The exact relationship between iron deficiency anemia and the developmental effects is not well understood, but these effects do not occur until iron deficiency becomes severe and chronic enough to produce anemia. At that point, treatment with iron can reverse the anemia and restore iron sufficiency, yet the poorer developmental functioning appears to persist. Therefore, intervention should focus on the primary prevention of iron deficiency. In the first year of life, measures to prevent iron deficiency include completely avoiding cow's milk, starting iron supplementation at four to six months of age in breastfed infants, and using iron-fortified formula when not breastfeeding. Low-iron formula should not be used. In the second year of life, iron deficiency can be prevented by use of a diversified diet that is rich in sources of iron and vitamin C, limiting cow's milk consumption to less than 24 oz per day, and providing a daily iron-fortified vitamin. All infants and toddlers who did not receive primary prevention should be screened for iron deficiency. Screening is performed at nine to 12 months, six months later, and at 24 months of age. The hemoglobin/hematocrit level alone detects only patients with enough iron deficiency to be anemic. Screening by erythrocyte protoporphyrin or red-cell distribution width identifies earlier stages of iron deficiency. A positive screening test is an indication for a therapeutic trial of iron, which remains the definitive method of establishing a diagnosis of iron deficiency.
Iron Deficiency Anemia - Article
ABSTRACT: The prevalence of iron deficiency anemia is 2 percent in adult men, 9 to 12 percent in non-Hispanic white women, and nearly 20 percent in black and Mexican-American women. Nine percent of patients older than 65 years with iron deficiency anemia have a gastrointestinal cancer when evaluated. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force currently recommends screening for iron deficiency anemia in pregnant women but not in other groups. Routine iron supplementation is recommended for high-risk infants six to 12 months of age. Iron deficiency anemia is classically described as a microcytic anemia. The differential diagnosis includes thalassemia, sideroblastic anemias, some types of anemia of chronic disease, and lead poisoning. Serum ferritin is the preferred initial diagnostic test. Total iron-binding capacity, transferrin saturation, serum iron, and serum transferrin receptor levels may be helpful if the ferritin level is between 46 and 99 ng per mL (46 and 99 mcg per L); bone marrow biopsy may be necessary in these patients for a definitive diagnosis. In children, adolescents, and women of reproductive age, a trial of iron is a reasonable approach if the review of symptoms, history, and physical examination are negative; however, the hemoglobin should be checked at one month. If there is not a 1 to 2 g per dL (10 to 20 g per L) increase in the hemoglobin level in that time, possibilities include malabsorption of oral iron, continued bleeding, or unknown lesion. For other patients, an endoscopic evaluation is recommended beginning with colonoscopy if the patient is older than 50.
Screening for Iron Deficiency Anemia-Including Iron Supplementation for Children and Pregnant Women - Putting Prevention into Practice
Evaluation of Anemia in Children - Article
ABSTRACT: Anemia is defined as a hemoglobin level of less than the 5th percentile for age. Causes vary by age. Most children with anemia are asymptomatic, and the condition is detected on screening laboratory evaluation. Screening is recommended only for high-risk children. Anemia is classified as microcytic, normocytic, or macrocytic, based on the mean corpuscular volume. Mild microcytic anemia may be treated presumptively with oral iron therapy in children six to 36 months of age who have risk factors for iron deficiency anemia. If the anemia is severe or is unresponsive to iron therapy, the patient should be evaluated for gastrointestinal blood loss. Other tests used in the evaluation of microcytic anemia include serum iron studies, lead levels, and hemoglobin electrophoresis. Normocytic anemia may be caused by chronic disease, hemolysis, or bone marrow disorders. Workup of normocytic anemia is based on bone marrow function as determined by the reticulocyte count. If the reticulocyte count is elevated, the patient should be evaluated for blood loss or hemolysis. A low reticulocyte count suggests aplasia or a bone marrow disorder. Common tests used in the evaluation of macrocytic anemias include vitamin B12 and folate levels, and thyroid function testing. A peripheral smear can provide additional information in patients with anemia of any morphology.
Evaluation of Microcytosis - Article
ABSTRACT: Microcytosis is typically an incidental finding in asymptomatic patients who received a complete blood count for other reasons. The condition is defined as a mean corpuscular volume of less than 80 µm3 (80 fL) in adults. The most common causes of microcytosis are iron deficiency anemia and thalassemia trait. Other diagnoses to consider include anemia of chronic disease, lead toxicity, and sideroblastic anemia. Serum ferritin measurement is the first laboratory test recommended in the evaluation of microcytosis. Low ferritin levels suggest iron deficiency. Once a presumptive diagnosis of iron deficiency anemia has been made, an underlying source for the deficiency should be determined. Iron deficiency anemia in adults is presumed to be caused by blood loss; the most common source of bleeding is the gastrointestinal tract. The possibility of gastrointestinal malignancy must be considered. If the serum ferritin level is not initially low, further evaluation should include total iron-binding capacity, transferrin saturation level, serum iron level, and possibly hemoglobin electrophoresis. Anemia of chronic disease is suggested with low iron levels and decreased total iron-binding capacity. Patients with beta-thalassemia trait usually have elevated levels of hemoglobin A2.
Iron Deficiency Anemia: What's the Cause? - Photo Quiz
CDC Issues Guidelines for Prevention, Detection and Treatment of Iron Deficiency - Special Medical Reports
ABSTRACT: Anemia is a prevalent condition with a variety of underlying causes. Once the etiology has been established, many forms of anemia can be easily managed by the family physician. Iron deficiency, the most common form of anemia, may be treated orally or, rarely, parenterally. Vitamin B12 deficiency has traditionally been treated with intramuscular injections, although oral and intranasal preparations are also available. The treatment of folate deficiency is straightforward, relying on oral supplements. Folic acid supplementation is also recommended for women of child-bearing age to reduce their risk of neural tube defects. Current research focuses on folate's role in reducing the risk of premature cardiovascular disease.
Screening for Iron Deficiency Anemia Among Children and Adolescents - Putting Prevention into Practice