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Hemolytic Anemia

Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders in the Delaware Valley and Florida

Locations & Doctors Who Treat Hemolytic Anemia



Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children

1600 Rockland Road
Wilmington, DE 19803
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For Appointments: (800) 416-4441

Doctors Who Treat Hemolytic Anemia at This Location

New Jersey


Nemours duPont Pediatrics, Voorhees

443 Laurel Oak Road
Therapy Services (Suite 200)
Pediatric Specialty Services (Suite 230)
Voorhees, NJ 08043
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For Appointments: (800) 416-4441

Hours: Fourth Friday each month; 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
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Nemours duPont Pediatrics, Philadelphia

833 Chestnut St. E., Suite 300
Philadelphia, PA 19107
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For Appointments: (800) 416-4441

Hours: Monday–Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Nemours duPont Pediatrics, Lancaster

2128 Embassy Drive, Suite A
Lancaster, PA 17603
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For Appointments: (800) 416-4441

Hours: Hours vary; please call
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Nemours Children's Hospital, Orlando

13535 Nemours Parkway
Orlando, FL 32827
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For Appointments: (407) 650-7715

Doctors Who Treat Hemolytic Anemia at This Location

Nemours Children's Specialty Care, Orlando

1717 S. Orange Ave.
Orlando, FL 32806
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For Appointments: (407) 650-7715

Hours: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Doctors Who Treat Hemolytic Anemia at This Location

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Nemours Children's Specialty Care, Melbourne

1270 N. Wickham Road
Melbourne, FL 32935
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For Appointments: (407) 650-7715

Hours: Monday–Friday: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Doctors Who Treat Hemolytic Anemia at This Location

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Nemours Children's Specialty Care, Jacksonville

807 Children’s Way
Jacksonville, FL 32207
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For Appointments: (904) 697-3789

Hours: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Doctors Who Treat Hemolytic Anemia at This Location


Nemours Children's Specialty Care, Pensacola

5153 N. Ninth Ave.
Pensacola, FL 32504
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For Appointments: (850) 505-4790

Hours: Monday–Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Central Time)
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Doctors Who Treat Hemolytic Anemia at This Location

About Hemolytic Anemia

Hemolytic anemia in children is a rare disorder that affects one child in 80,000 each year in the United States. Anemia is a blood disorder that occurs when red blood cells are too low. There are different kinds of anemia depending on what causes it, such as rapid destruction of red blood cells, inadequate production of red blood cells and blood loss. Hemolytic anemia is the type caused by the destruction of red blood cells. 

Hemolytic anemia in children occurs when the spleen destroys red blood cells (responsible for carrying oxygen throughout the body) faster than the bone marrow can make it. It’s either because of a defect in the red blood cells, or because healthy red blood cells are destroyed by infections, medications, blood cancers (such as leukemia or lymphoma) or autoimmune disorders. The severity of pediatric hemolytic anemia depends on how long the red blood cells live before they are destroyed.

Our renowned hematologists, oncologists and researchers at the Nemours Center for Cancer and Blood Disorders work together to diagnose and treat mild and severe forms of hemolytic anemia in children, including intrinsic (or inherited) hemolytic anemia and extrinsic (or autoimmune) hemolytic anemia. 

Types of Pediatric Hemolytic Anemia We Treat

Intrinsic Hemolytic Anemia in Children

Pediatric intrinsic hemolytic anemia is caused by inherited defects in the red blood cells such as thalassemia, glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency, pyruvate kinase (PK) deficiency, hereditary spherocytosis and sickle cell disease.

Thalassemia (Cooley Anemia)

Thalassemia in children, also known as “Cooley anemia,” affects the way the body makes hemoglobin (a protein found in red blood cells). There are many types of thalassemia, with the two most common being alpha thalassemia and beta thalassemia, named after the globin component it affects. 

Childhood complications of thalassemia include:
  • too much iron in the blood
  • certain infections
  • enlarged spleen
  • slowed growth rate
  • heart problems
  • bone deformities

Thalassemia is typically diagnosed before a child is 2 years old. Treating thalassemia in children depends on the severity of the disease — mild cases often don’t require treatment. 

Glucose-6-Phosphate Dehydrogenase (G6PD) Deficiency

Glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency (also called “G6PD deficiency”) is a genetic blood disorder that occurs when the G6PD enzyme destroys red blood cells because of certain stressors, including infections (malaria, among others), foods (fava beans or legumes) or medications (antibiotics containing sulfur, aspirin and others).

It’s estimated that one in 10 males (most commonly those who are African American or of Mediterranean descent) are diagnosed with G6PD deficiency each year in the United States. Treating G6PD deficiency in children depends on the child’s age and extent of the disease.

Pyruvate Kinase (PK) Deficiency

Pyruvate kinase deficiency (also called “PK deficiency”) is a rare, inherited disorder indicated by a lack (deficiency) in the PK enzyme (which helps change glucose, or sugar, to energy when oxygen levels are low) which results in chronic hemolytic anemia (a persistent, premature breakdown of the red blood cells). Pyruvate kinase deficiency also causes nonsphereocytic hemolytic anemia, which means the red blood cells don’t take on a spherical (round) shape as in other types of blood disorders and hemolytic anemias.

PK deficiency is found in all ethnic groups and, although rare, it may be under-diagnosed because mild cases may not be identified. Symptoms of PK deficiency may include pale skin, jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes) fatigue/irritability or growth delay.

Hereditary Spherocytosis

Hereditary spherocytosis is a genetic disorder marked by fragile red blood cell membranes that breakdown overtime. This process turns the normally flat, disc-shaped red blood cells into spheres (ball-shaped) and prematurely destroys them, which impacts the function of blood proteins such as hemoglobin (responsible for carrying oxygen to other cells in the body). 

Symptoms range from mild to severe and can include:
  • pale skin
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • irritability
  • enlarged spleen
  • rapid heartbeat

In some children, hereditary sphyerocytosis can cause gallstones.

Sickle Cell Disease

Sickle cell disease, sometimes called “sickle cell anemia,” is a blood disorder caused by a mutation (or change) in the specific gene responsible for making hemoglobin. This mutation causes the hemoglobin to make red blood cells (normally soft and flexible) to become misshapen, sticky and rigid, which can slow or even block blood flow through the blood vessels. 

Symptoms of sickle cell disease in babies (older than 4 months) and children include:
  • anemia
  • swollen hands and feet
  • pain
  • infections
  • vision problems
  • stroke and more

Pediatric Extrinsic Hemolytic Anemia

Pediatric extrinsic hemolytic anemia occurs when some outside factor destroys healthy red blood cells. Some types of extrinsic hemolytic anemia are temporary and don’t come back after treatment. Other types are chronic or reoccurring. 

Causes of extrinsic hemolytic anemia in children include:
  • hyperactive immune system (called “autoimmune hemolytic anemia,” it occurs when the immune system causes the body to kill healthy cells)
  • infections (viral or bacterial in nature)
  • medications (antibiotics, sulfa medications, acetaminophen) 
  • blood cancers (leukemia or lymphoma)
  • certain tumors (masses of abnormal cells that can be malignant/cancerous or benign/non-cancerous)
  • hypersplenism (when red blood cells get trapped in the spleen)

Diagnosing Hemolytic Anemia in Children

Signs & Symptoms of Hemolytic Anemia

Symptoms of hemolytic anemia in children vary, but generally can include:

  • fever
  • weakness
  • dizziness
  • jaundice (yellowing of the skin and eyes)
  • pale skin/lips
  • confusion
  • increased heart rate
  • spleen and liver enlargement
  • dark urine

Testing & Evaluations

If your child possibly has pediatric hemolytic anemia — such as extrinsic and inherited hemolytic anemias like thalassemia and glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (G6PD) deficiency — Nemours’ experienced hematology and oncology care team works together to appropriately diagnose and stage the disease through a variety of tests and procedures, including:

  • thorough physical examination and medical history
  • blood tests
  • urine tests
  • bone marrow aspiration and biopsy

Treating & Caring for Children With Hemolytic Anemia

Your Child's Comprehensive Blood Disorder Care Team

If we discover pediatric hemolytic anemia, our multidisciplinary (collaborative) team plans the most effective treatment personalized to your child’s needs.

In addition to an experienced, compassionate cancer coordinator (a nurse who provides your child and family support, education and care coordination), Nemours’ pediatric blood disorder and cancer teams include:

  • hematologists (blood disorder specialists)
  • oncologists (cancer doctors)
  • immunologists (autoimmune disorder specialists)
  • pathologists (diagnose diseases by examining body tissues, fluids and organs)
  • geneticists (perform genetic counseling and testing)
    interventional radiologists (perform image-guided minimally invasive procedures)
  • behavioral health specialists (psychologists and psychiatrists)
  • registered dietitians (nutrition specialists)
  • hematology nurses (registered nurses specializing in blood disorders in children)

Your care team is here to provide your family with ongoing support and follow-up. We always include you in the entire process, because we truly believe in the healing power of families, and that you know your child best.

Learn More About Nemours’ Pediatric Hematology Care Teams in Your Area »

Innovative Childhood Hemolytic Anemia Treatment at Nemours

Pediatric hemolytic anemia, such as autoimmune hemolytic anemia, can be a temporary condition and never return after treatment, or it can be chronic which means it recurs, or comes back. Treatment depends on what causes the condition, the severity, your child’s age and overall health, and can include one or more of the following:

  • antibiotics (for infections that cause the condition)
  • steroid therapy (prednisone or cortisone to help increase hemoglobin or red blood cells)
  • blood transfusion (adding red blood cells intravenously, or through the veins)
  • exchange transfusion (replacing the affected blood with new blood)
  • intravenous immunoglobulin (IVIG, to build up/strengthen the immune system)
  • immunosuppressive therapy (to keep the immune system from attacking healthy cells)
  • surgery (to remove the spleen)

For your child’s overall health and wellness, we also prescribe pain management services, palliative care (to manage physical symptoms resulting from the disease or surgery) and integrative medicine (massage, aqua therapy, biofeedback, yoga, meditation and more).

Learn More About Pediatric Hematology Treatment at Nemours »

Additional Resources & Support for Families

Nemours Support Services

Dealing with a complex medical condition is difficult for your child and family. But you don’t have to go through it alone. Nemours provides an array of support services that begin on the very first day we meet, and continues throughout your journey because at Nemours, your child and family become part of our own. Our services include:

Our services include: 
  • patient and family education
  • social work
  • mental health counseling
  • Child Life services
  • creative therapy
  • support groups
Trusted National Hemolytic Anemia Resources

G6PD Deficiency Support: This online support group and information center offers resources about this inherited condition in which the body doesn't have enough of the enzyme glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase (or “G6PD”), as well as related topics such as nutritional concerns and the potential effects on other health issues.

Hope and Destiny: The Patient and Parent’s Guide to Sickle Cell Disease and Sickle Cell Trait: This informative guide is for parents of children with sickle cell disease.

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute: The institute is part of the Department of Health and Human Services, and promotes the research, prevention and treatment of heart, lung and blood diseases.

Nemours’ Eating Well With Sickle Cell (PDF): This cookbook helps kids with sickle cell disease eat for their condition to achieve better nutrition and improved energy.

Sickle Cell Disease Association of America: The SCDAA works to improve the quality of health, life and services for individuals, families and communities affected by sickle cell disease and related conditions, and promotes the search for a cure.

Appointments & Referrals

Delaware, Pennsylvania & New Jersey

(800) 416-4441

Jacksonville Area

(904) 697-3789

Orlando Area

(407) 650-7715

Pensacola Area

(850) 505-4790

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+1 (302) 651-4993

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