Seven Warning Signs of Anemia in Children

Anemia in children is a serious condition that requires early detection and diagnosis. Quickly identifying the symptoms is important to prevent complications.
Seven Warning Signs of Anemia in Children
María Cantos

Written and verified by the midwife María Cantos.

Last update: 26 May, 2022

Anemia in children is a disease considered an elevated public health concern due to its serious childhood developmental consequences.  Many studies have been conducted to try to detect the root cause of this disease and the best ways to fight it.

What’s anemia?

Anemia is a decrease in hemoglobin levels. Hemoglobin is responsible for transporting oxygen within red blood cells. For this reason, a decrease in hemoglobin levels leads to a drop in oxygen supply to the organs.

Naturally, there are some exceptional situations, such as pregnancy, when it’s normal for hemoglobin levels to be below laboratories’ range of limits. However, whenever there are data that indicate the occurrence of possible anemia, you need to consult a specialist so they can interpret all the levels.

Types of anemia in children

Overall, depending on the cause of anemia, it can be classified into different types:

  • Decreased production of red blood cells. In this case, the bone marrow is responsible for producing them. For this purpose, it needs iron, folate, and vitamin E.
  • Destruction of red blood cells. The medical term for this is hemolysis. It involves the rupturing of red blood cells.
  • Iron loss. Typically, this is common in hemorrhages or due to insufficient iron intake.

Symptoms of anemia in children

1. Fatigue or tiredness

A tired boy with his head down.

The term used in medicine for this symptom is asthenia. If your child is suffering from it, you should go to a pediatric specialist. There, they will assess your child by performing a physical examination to try to determine the cause.

Unfortunately, fatigue or tiredness is difficult to define, and even more so for a child. That’s why it should always be considered a serious symptom. Overall, the child will have decreased physical performance and manifest a continued desire to rest.

2. Irritability

Next, this symptom often accompanies tiredness. Similarly, it’s very difficult to properly identify. In fact, many children have temper tantrums or manifest irritability due to development itself or for different reasons.

3. Anorexia in anemia in children

Also, loss of appetite is another major symptom associated with anemia in children. However, it may only manifest occasionally due to infectious processes or specific situations, such as problems at school.

Typically, experts recommend monitoring developments and the duration of this symptom to request a specialist consultation if it persists over time.

4. Pagophagia and anemia in children

Next, this is a rather strange symptom that can manifest in a child who’s suffering from anemia. Overall, it involves the intake of non-food products. This may include things like dirt and objects.

Parents or guardians must supervise this behavior alteration. Also, they should request an urgent pediatric consultation. This is especially due to the possible poisoning it can cause.

5. Skin or mucosal pallor or jaundice

Signs of anemia in children.

A change in skin color indicates a drop in red blood cell levels. If such changes occur sporadically and the recovery is quick, it’s usually associated with acute cases that eventually resolve on their own. However, if they persist after several days, we recommended visiting a pediatrician for evaluation.

This article may interest you: Ten Foods You Should Eat to Fight Anemia

6. Tachycardia and anemia in children

A very fast heart rate or palpitations may be signs of anemia in children. These symptoms usually manifest in children with dizziness, possible chest pain, or difficulty breathing.

If this happens to your child frequently, you should discuss it with your pediatrician for proper evaluation, as it can also be caused by other problems.

7. Hair loss or weak nails

Finally, two other symptoms of anemia in children are weak nails and hair loss. Depending on the child’s age, the latter may be more difficult to detect due to very fine hair.


In conclusion, many symptoms may manifest if a child is suffering from anemia. You must be vigilant to detect any problem as early as possible to avoid complications.

When in doubt, be sure to consult a pediatrician.

All cited sources were thoroughly reviewed by our team to ensure their quality, reliability, currency, and validity. The bibliography of this article was considered reliable and of academic or scientific accuracy.

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  • L.M., L., K.S., P., & S.-R., P. (2017). Iron and Cognitive Development: What Is the Evidence? Annals of Nutrition and Metabolism, 71(3), 25–38.
  • Reboso Perez, J., Jiménez Acosta, S., Cabrera Nuñez, E., & Pita-Rodríguez, G. (2005). Anemia por deficiencia de hierro en niños de 6 a 24 meses y de 6 a 12 años de edad. Revista Cubana Salud Pública.
  • Anemia – Síntomas y causas – Mayo Clinic. (2019). Retrieved 12 November 2020, from
  • Reboso Pérez, J., Cabrera Núñez, E., Rodríguez, G. P., & Jiménez Acosta, S. (2005). Anemia por deficiencia de hierro en niños de 6 a 24 meses y de 6 a 12 años de edad. Revista Cubana de Salud Pública, 31(4), 0-0.
  • Casanovas Gordó, J. M. (2009). Del síntoma a la enfermedad: astenia. Pediatría Atención Primaria, 11, 425-431.
  • Anemia causada por bajo nivel de hierro en los niños: MedlinePlus enciclopedia médica. (2020). Retrieved 13 November 2020, from

This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.