Megaloblastic Anemia

Also known as: Vitamin B12 deficiency anemia, folate-deficiency anemia, folic acid deficiency anemia, pernicious anemia.

What is megaloblastic anemia?

Megaloblastic anemia is a type of anemia where the bone marrow produces fewer and abnormally large, oval shaped (instead of round/disk-like) red blood cells, with underdeveloped inside contents (hemoglobin). They tend not to survive as long as normal red blood cells.

What causes megaloblastic anemia?

There are many causes (e.g. congenital abnormalities of absorption, abnormalities of the bowel like celiac disease, certain medications that interfere with vitamin absorption etc.), however the most common cause in children is a deficiency of folic acid or Vitamin B-12.

What are the symptoms of megaloblastic anemia? 

Common symptoms include:
  • Pale skin
  • Irritability
  • Poor appetite
  • Smooth and painful tongue
  • Stomach problems
  • Numbness/tingling in hands and feet
  • Difficulty walking
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Fast/irregular heartbeat
  • Trouble breathing and
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness

What are megaloblastic anemia care options?

Depending on a number of factors, the typical treatment includes treating the underlying cause, administration of a folic acid (by mouth for 2-3 months) supplement or vitamin B-12 (by injection) and modifying the child's diet to include foods that contain significant amounts of folic acid and Vitamin B-12.


Reviewed by: Jack Wolfsdorf, MD, FAAP

This page was last updated on: 10/4/2019 4:13:32 PM


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