A megaloblastic anemia is due to asynchronous maturation of red cells and is caused by problems with DNA synthesis. The maturation asynchrony occurs between the cell nucleus and cytoplasm, one developing faster than the other.
There are many causes of megaloblastic anemia, but the most common source in children occurs from a vitamin deficiency of folic acid. Megaloblastic Anemia are classified by the cause of the anemia:
- either folic acid deficiency,
- vitamin B12 deficiency, or
- anemia that does not respond to treatment with either folic acid or vitamin B12.
Symptoms of Megaloblastic anemias
- Loss of appetite
- Tingling and numbness of hands and feet
- Pale skin color
- Sore mouth and tongue
- Change in skin color
Megaloblastic anemia may be suspected from general findings from a complete medical history and physical examination of your child. In addition, several blood tests can be performed to confirm the diagnosis. If the megaloblastic anemia is thought to be caused from a problem in the digestive tract, a barium study of the digestive system may be performed.
Treatment usually involves your child taking an oral dietary folic acid supplement for at least two to three months. If the disorder is caused by an absorption problem in the digestive tract, this may need to be treated first.