ZocdocAnswersWill my daughter develop anemia once she starts getting her period?

Question

Will my daughter develop anemia once she starts getting her period?

All the women in my family have anemia. My daughter is 10 right now and I worry about her developing it when she starts menstruating. How can I prevent this from happening?

Answer

Anemia is the term we used to describe low red blood cells in the blood. The measure of the number of red blood cells in the blood is the hematocrit. Anemia can cause many problems including fatigue and shortness of breath. Anemia has many causes, but in young women, iron deficiency from the loss of blood each month during each cycle is a common one. It may be that the women in your family tend to have heavier periods which results in more blood loss than average. Iron deficiency develops over time which can cause anemia. This can be combated by making the periods lighter (often with hormonal birth control) and by replacing the iron that's lost through supplementation. I suggest that you schedule an appointment for your daughter with her pediatrician. The two of you can discuss the causes of anemia and what symptoms you should look out for. When your daughter begins getting her period, pay attention to the number of pads or tampons she is using each day. If it is an excessive amount, she will be at a greater risk for becoming anemic. If her doctor is at all concerned about anemia, then she can periodically have a complete blood count done to track her hematocrit.

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