Hemolytic Anemia

Hemolytic anemia is a type of blood disorder that occurs when the body has fewer red blood cells than normal. Red blood cells carry oxygen from the lungs to all parts of the body. In children with hemolytic anemia, the low red blood cell count is caused by the destruction, rather than the underproduction, of red blood cells.

Hemolytic anemias can be divided into two categories.

  • Inherited (or intrinsic) hemolytic anemia is caused by a defect in the red blood cells themselves and results when one or more genes that control red blood cell production don’t function properly.
  • Acquired (or extrinsic) hemolytic anemia is caused by factors outside the red blood cell, such as antibodies from an autoimmune disorder, burns or drug medications. In these conditions, red blood cells are usually healthy when produced by the bone marrow, but later are destroyed in the bloodstream or get prematurely trapped and recycled in the spleen.

How Dana-Farber/Boston Children's approaches hemolytic anemia

Children and teens with hematolytic anemia are treated through the Blood Disorders Center at Dana-Farber/Boston Children's Cancer and Blood Disorders Center, an integrated pediatric hematology and oncology partnership between Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Boston Children's Hospital – and a world leader in the treatment and research of all types of pediatric blood disorders.

Learn more

Learn more about hemolytic anemia, including types of hemolytic anemias and hemolytic anemia treatments, on the Dana-Farber/Boston Children's website.