What is sideroblastic anemia?

Sideroblastic anemia is a group of disorders where the bone marrow (or ‘blood factory’) does not make enough red blood cells to provide oxygen to tissues. In these disorders, the bone marrow cells that make red blood cells are unable to process iron correctly and the iron builds up in the cell. There are many causes for these disorders. Some cases of sideroblastic anemia are inherited and may be found in families, whereas others are acquired over time.

What are the symptoms of sideroblastic anemia?

Symptoms include:

  • fatigue
  • lack of energy
  • light-headedness when standing up or with exertion.

How is sideroblastic anemia diagnosed?

Anemia is diagnosed using a simple blood test. A bone marrow biopsy will detect the sideroblast (blood producing cell with too much iron). Further tests are necessary to determine the cause of the sideroblastic anemia. In cases where inherited sideroblastic anemia is suspected, genetic testing to looks for known mutations should be performed

How is sideroblastic anemia treated?

Treatment for sideroblastic anemia depends on the type or cause. Avoidance of known triggers such as lead poisoning, certain drugs or alcohol may be recommended. Some forms of sideroblastic anemia respond to vitamin B6. Blood transfusions are often required to treat the symptoms of anemia. In some cases, a bone marrow or stem cell transplant may be considered.

About treatment for sideroblastic anemia at Children’s

Children’s Cancer and Blood Disorders program achieves outcomes that rank among the top national programs and cares for more than two-thirds of Minnesota children and adolescents with blood disorders. In the program, families coping with anemia have access to the newest and most promising treatments and receive care spearheaded and coordinated by a board-certified hematologist/oncologist.

Contact us

If you are a family member looking for a Children’s hematologist or oncologist or wanting to schedule an appointment, call the outpatient clinic at Children’s – Minneapolis at 612-813-5940.

If you are a health professional looking for consultation or referral information, please call Children’s Physician Access at 1-866-755-2121 (toll-free).