What is pediatric acquired aplastic anemia?

Aplastic anemia occurs when the bone marrow produces too few of all types of blood cells; red cells, white cells and platelets. A reduced number of white blood cells cause the patient to be prone to infection.

Symptoms and diagnosis

Recognizing the signs and symptoms of pediatric acquired aplastic anemia

Each child will experience different signs and symptoms. Some of the most common are:

  • Headache

  • Dizziness

  • Nausea

  • Shortness of breath

  • Bruising

  • Becoming tired easily or lack of energy

  • Lack of color of the skin

  • Blood in stool

  • Nosebleeds

  • Bleeding gums

  • Fevers

  • Sinus tenderness

  • Enlarged liver or spleen

  • Oral thrush (white patches, occurring anywhere in the mouth)


In addition to a complete medical history and full physical exam, special tests will be performed to make the full diagnosis. Additional testing may include:

Blood tests are done to look for evidence of disease and any possible effects on other organs of the body such as the kidney or liver.

This is a test where doctors remove some bone marrow from the pelvic bone. This is usually done under sedation or general anesthesia. A pathologist looks at the bone marrow for signs of cancer. 

Learn more


Unique to your child


Treatment for aplastic anemia will be determined on your child’s age, overall health and medical history. It may include:

A blood transfusion is when a donor's blood is transferred to a patient through their vein.

A bone marrow transplant may be needed if your cancer or condition cannot be cured after chemotherapy treatment. Cancers, genetic disorders and other conditions of the blood and immune system can be treated and cured with a bone marrow transplant.

Learn more

Immunosuppressive therapy is used to destroy the child’s immune response and allow the bone marrow to make blood again. During this treatment, red blood cell or platelet transfusions and antibiotics will be needed.

Supportive care helps the symptoms of aplastic anemia. This could include blood transfusions, preventative antibiotic therapy, medications that stimulate the body to make more white blood cells and behavioral changes like thorough hand washing and avoiding large crowds or people who are known to have fevers or illness.

Fighting pediatric cancer and blood disorders

The UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center specialists offer the most advanced treatment options. Our pediatric cancer and blood disorder experts are national research leaders. We test new therapies and continue to work on therapies for pediatric cancer and blood disorders. For many children with rare or hard-to-treat conditions, clinical trials provide new options.

Search our clinical trials

Smiling child with sign reading UW Health Kids
UW Health Kids
Our pediatric experts have served the special needs of children for more than 100 years. We focus on each child’s unique needs and offer social and emotional support to help you and your child face even the most complex condition. Our long history includes the creation of medical advances that save lives around the world. Together, we get your child back to health and enjoying being a kid.

Meet our team

Your child’s care team

Your child’s care is our top priority and we understand the unique needs they have. Your child’s team will include

  • Oncologists (cancer doctors)

  • Hematologists (blood disease doctors)

  • Nurse practitioners

  • Child Life specialists

  • Pain management specialists

  • Physical, occupational and speech therapists

  • Radiologists and radiation technologists

  • Social workers

  • Surgeons

Our providers


How to find us

UW Health Kids | Carbone Cancer Center hematologists are dedicated to diagnosing and treating all infants, children and adolescents with blood disorders, including acquired aplastic anemia.

Our pediatric hematologists are part of the UW Carbone Cancer Center which is a National Cancer Institute-designated Comprehensive Cancer Center. This designation means that the doctors taking care of your child are experts in cancer and blood disorder treatment, research and education.

Care for your child

Receiving care from the pediatric hematology, oncology and bone marrow transplant program at American Family Children’s Hospital means you have access to the knowledge and skills of many medical and support specialists for your child’s complex health diagnosis like cancer.

American Family Children’s Hospital

At American Family Children’s Hospital, you will find a friendly, child-centered environment. Our hospital is designed with relaxing spaces and areas where children are encouraged to play. 

Patient and support services

You’re never alone

When your child needs hospitalization, they will be admitted to American Family Children's Hospital in Madison, Wis.

Child life specialists help your child and family cope with any fears and anxieties. The American Family Children's Hospital patient and family visitor guide features information about:

  • Hero beads

  • Hospital school

  • Positive Image Center

  • Restoring Hope Transplant House (for blood and bone marrow transplant)

  • Spiritual care services

  • Tyler's Place (sibling child care)

Additional resources

Pediatric cancer services

With our expertise comes compassion. Our team considers you and your child part of our family. We will be by your side every step of the way. From diagnosis through treatment and into adulthood, we will care for your child as if they are our own.

Learn more